Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Excel Has Got Your Number(s)
4/5
that sure looks like text, because it’s missing the tell-tale = sign. But General treats the above
expression as a date, namely:
05-Apr
And similarly, General treats:
4–5
the same way, as that same date. Yes—by rights, the General format could have assigned text status to
these entries, but Excel assumes that users who write such expressions really want to enter dates. And
dates, as we’ll see, are really numbers.
In any case, the General format keeps an open mind about what it is you’ve written, whereas the
other formats are a bit bossier, in the sense that they impose their expectations on the data to the
extent they can.
Thus the Number Format option can’t turn text into a number, but it can turn numerical data
displaying a different format back into a garden-variety number—and it throws in two de ci ma l poi n ts
for free. Thus if a cell contains this entry:
34.5%
Clicking that cell and then clicking Number will yield:
.35
See why? Here, Number has really done two things: it’s repealed the percent style, and rounded
off the number to two decimal points—because that what Number does by default. But remember: the
number is really 345. Check out the Formula Bar. .
Currency is a cousin of the Accounting Number Format, and we’ve already alluded to it. It differs
from Accounting in one respect: the currency symbol it imparts hugs each number’s first digit, instead
of assigning it to a fixed place in the far left of the cell. Thus our Accounting example of a few pages
back looked like this (Figure 4–76):
Figure 4–76. The Accounting format redux
Click Currency on the same range and you’ll come away with this (Figure 4–77):
 
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