Did that just work? Case formatting in Excel

I recently came across this quote from Isaac Asimov — it is so true:


I absolutely love this quote. Breakthroughs hardly happen when you expect them. This requires a level of humility and even playfulness.

On a scaled-down Excel note… 

I was trying to type in the word “PAs” (as in “Physician Assistants”) and kept getting the same error:


I tried a lot of things. I tried the old ” ‘ at the beginning of the cell” trick. That didn’t work.

I searched all over the internet to see if there was a custom cell format I could use. Couldn’t find it — most of them are for dates or numbers.

Then I tried something weird that worked. I concatenated “PA” and “s” from different cells and pasted the value of the result.


That’s funny!

So, moral of the story

1. Ugly solutions are still solutions…

I wish I could have come up with a custom cell format. Maybe there is one (see number 2).

But these kind of small discoveries, noticing a quirk or shortcut — these are much more important to innovation than the giant “Eureka!” moments. 

2. …but elegant solutions are nice too 🙂  

And the nice thing about the “That’s funny” mentality is it keeps you hungry for new information and ways of trying something.

So, in this example, do you have ideas for me?

Thank you for experimenting in Excel with me! 


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  1. Hi George,

    You can simply untick “Correct TWo initial CApitals” in the Autocorrect options.
    Go to
    File > Option > Proofing > Change how Excel corrects and formats text as you type

    And then you can do a bunch of things (you can even cope with exceptions…), including solving your “capitals” problem !


    • George Mount says:

      Thanks, Tristan! I had not explored the Proofing options before but it looks like a lot is available there! I will remember this if I have issues with text formatting again.

  2. This happens with the default autocorrect options, which in the version of Excel that I am using are in ‘Excel Options’ -> ‘Proofing’ -> ‘AutoCorrect Options…’. From there there are options to uncheck ‘Correct TWo INitial CApitals’ or set ‘Exceptions…’.

    Alternatively, we can let it autocorrect to something we don’t want, then go back and change it to what we do want. I.e. don’t resort straight to an ‘ at the start, just press F2 and reinstate the second capital that was wanted.

    • George Mount says:

      Thank you, Levi! Welcome to the blog. Yes I tried your F2 suggestion in addition to the Proofing menu and that worked too, nice suggestion. Thanks for that tip! I’ve got some faster ways now 🙂

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