Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Excel Has Got Your Number(s)
and then click Comma Style, I’ll see 5,457.67. If I click Percent Style, I’ll see 545767%, and so on. The
point is that the last format selected takes priority.
Now if you examine the broad strip—called Number Format —sitting atop all these buttons in the
Number group, you’ll view the default entry General (Figure 4–74):
Figure 4–74. The General number format
Click the accompanying drop-down arrow and you’ll see (Figure 4–75)
Figure 4–75. The Number Format drop-down menu
Each of those eleven options (you can’t see that eleventh one—Text—in the screen shot, because
you need to scroll down) introduces formatting variations, some of which you’ve already seen, others
of which need to be explained. And note the More Number Format option at the base of the menu, too;
that also requires a closer look. So let’s move in sequence.
The default General format type is captioned No specific format—and that means General makes
its own guess about what kind of data you’ve entered in a cell. If I type a number, General assumes
that’s exactly what I had in mind—an entry that possesses quantitative value. If I type a prose sentence
in the cell instead, General deems it text in nature. If I type a formula, General treats it as such.
Now at this point you’re probably itching to ask a rather pressing question, because I see a lot of
raised hands out there. You want to know: Isn’t this all completely obvious? Why do we need a format to
make any decision about the data, when the nature of those data is so clear?
The answer is that the data types aren’t always so clear. If I type this:
 
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