Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Numbers are (a little) Different
If I click here, the menu shown in Figure 2–26 appears:
Figure 2–26. …and here it is
It’s a mini-drop-down, grabbing its data from the current list of names you’ve typed in the list to
date—and the list incorporates any new names as you type them. Just click one. Cool, and little known.
Numbers are (a little) Different
Now let’s return to the business of data entry proper, because to date we’ve omitted a rather essential
form of data from the discussion—numbers. The mechanics of numerical data entry are identical to
those governing text: Just type the number, and then execute one of those moves away from the cell.
Don’t worry about typing commas and dollar signs for now; just type the number. Note by way of
introduction that if you type:
for example, the number will appear just as you’ve typed it. But if you enter:
you’ll see 56 only, because by default Excel sheds those meaningless zeros—until you format it
differently (but if you reformat the number, remember it really remains nothing but 56. A glance at the
formula bar will provide that confirmation). Note in addition that a number less than 1, say .78, will
appear by default as:
that leading zero can be removed by a customized format, about which we’ll have more to say later.
And you’ll soon discover a couple of other issues that apply to numbers only.
For one thing, and unlike with text entry, Excel will never permit a number to advance into an
adjoining column, even if that column is vacant. The reasons are fairly clear. Because our numbers move
right-to-left, allowing a number to break into the column to its right would hopelessly misalign a set of
numbers streaming down one column. If, for example, a 12–digit number in A4 were to take over some
of the space in cell B4 because of its extreme width, and a merely 3-digit number were to populate A5
just beneath it, the “ones” column in the two numbers would be out of whack. The “ones” in A4 would
be shunted into B4, even as the “ones” in A5 would remain in A5.
Moreover, if that long number in A4 were allowed to ooze into B4—as happens with text—and a
number were then entered directly into B4, you’d find it difficult to know A4’s true value—because some
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