How to stop LibreOffice Calc from interpreting a + sign as a formula

If I type a plus sign into a cell and then click the mouse pointer in another cell, LibreOffice decides to treat the plus sign as if I had typed a formula or math expression, and it adds a cell reference into the initial cell next to my plus sign, and if I then hit enter it also adds the equals sign and then calculates a result and shows it in that cell.

I don’t want it to do any of that. If I type a + by itself, that means … (big surprise here) … I wanted a + in that cell. If I wanted a formula or math expression, I would have typed the equals sign first.

Please let me know how to disable this “feature”. I’m using v7.3.7.2.

Press + and Return.


This feature has been added by popular demand (Excel does the same).
The answer is simple: Enter a text value. Format the cells with special number format “Text” (code @) BEFORE entering something.
Now 000123 is a sequence of 6 digits but not a number.
=SUM(A1:X99) is a sequence of 12 characters but not a formula.
+13/9 is a sequence of 5 characters but not a formula.
1/2/2022 is a sequence of 8 characters but not a date entry.


Note also: tdf#131638

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Calc is primarily a tool for mathemathical calculations, so it is not entirely illogical that it interprets input as numerical whenever possible.

You can disable numerical interpretation in different ways:

  • On the fly: The quick solution to forcing a single entry with a numerical interpretation to be taken verbatim:
    type a leading apostrophe.
    The apostrophe will show in the formula bar preview but not in the cell grid. It does not appear as part of the content.
  • Prepare the cell: @Villeroy already provided the solution to ensure that input to a particular cell (or range of cells) is always treated verbatim:

The apostrophe method is broken since many versions. It will be fixed in version 7.5.
At the current state, you have to know beforehand if an expression will be interpreted as number or not. If not, the apostrophe is taken as first character.
Regular spreadsheet behavoiour (since Excel '93 at least) interpretes any leading apostrophe as a marker which never appears as part of the cell’s string.