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To convert to a data type, Excel looks for a match between the cell values and the database provider. If there's a match, you'll see a data type icon in the cell to indicate it was converted successfully. If you see a  Question mark icon  instead and the Data Selector opens, Excel needs your help to choose the right data type or find a match.

Tip: In Excel for the web, you can select the Use the tabs to the right of the Data Selector pane to navigate between panes.  Data Type tab or the  Select the ? on the right to tab between panes in the web.  Help tab on the right side to navigate between the panes.

Try it!

  1. If you try to convert to a data type and a question mark   Question mark icon   appears instead of the data type icon in the cell, you need to refine or match the result in the Data Selector. If the Data Selector doesn't automatically open, you can open it by selecting the question mark   Question mark icon    icon in the cell.

  2. In the Data Selector, review the results and select the one you want. Then the Data Selector will go to the next result that needs identifying.

    Note: Need help specifying or getting the correct results? See the section for refining your results below.

  3. When all cell values are linked to a data type, the Data Selector will close and you can now view cards and insert data.

Common questions about the Data Selector

How do I refine my results to get the correct data type?

If you selected Automatic to convert text to a data type, Excel will convert to the data type that is the most likely result or display results in the Data Selector that seem most likely. However if incorrect, you can easily change or specify the data type to what you're looking for.

Note: For example, the term "Brazil" is most likely to convert to the country, but selecting the Movies data type or searching "Brazil movie" in the Data Selector will display results for the movie Brazil. 

Try any of these steps to get the correct data type result:

  • Select the cell you want to change > go to Data > select the appropriate data type in the Data Types gallery in the ribbon.

  • Specify terms if possible, either in the Data Selector or by typing in the cell. For example, entering "honeycrisp apple" instead of "honeycrisp".

    Note: If your text was converted to the wrong data type, you can also right-click the cell > Data Types > Change... > select a different result or refine your term in the Data Selector.

What if there's no results that match what I'm looking for?

If the Data Selector is open but there are no results, try these steps:

  • Check that your text is spelled correctly and that each unique term is in its own cell.

  • Try using similar terms and alternatives. For example, entering "bridge" instead of "overpass".

  • Specify terms if possible either in the Data Selector or by typing in the cell. For example, entering "honeycrisp apple" instead of "honeycrisp".

If you still can't find any results, you can check what linked data types are available to see if we support this subject yet. For the term that has no matching result, you can either manually add data in or delete the row.

What if there are multiple results with the same name?

This can happen with certain data types, like the Foods data type. You can:

  • Refine your results by entering a more specific term in the text box of the Data Selector.

  • Select the image of a result to open the detail view, then use that information to help you make an informed choice.

Want more?

How to provide feedback about data types

Get chemistry facts with the Chemistry data type

Get nutrition facts with the Foods data type

Linked data types FAQ and tips

What linked data types are available in Excel?

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