Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Scientific (or exponential) format displays large numbers in a shorthand form—a value,
followed by the letter E, a plus or minus sign, and another number. To convert that format to
its decimal equivalent, move the decimal point by the number of places that appears after
the E—if the value begins with a plus sign, move the decimal point to the right, adding
zeroes if necessary; if there’s a minus sign, move the decimal point to the left, again adding
zeroes as needed. Here are some examples:
6.42E+06 is 6,420,000.
7.22E-05 is .0000722.
You can enter a number and apply the Scientific format with two decimal places as part of a
single action. Just insert the letter E at the appropriate place.
Numbers expressed using the default settings for the Scientific format are rounded for
display purposes to a maximum of six significant digits, regardless of the cell’s width. To
display numbers using more digits of precision, open the Format Cells dialog box, click
Scientific in the Category list, and increase the number of decimal places (this value must be
between 0 and 30).
When is a number not a number? When you specifically want it to be treated as text. That
happens with part numbers and product identifiers, for example, which can contain leading
zeroes and aren’t typically used in calculations. If you enter a number in a cell, Excel drops
the leading zero and aligns it to the right. To display the cell contents exactly as entered
(including leading zeroes), you must use the Text format, which is available at the bottom
of the Number Format list in the Number group on the Home tab. This category in the
Format Cells dialog box has no additional options.
You can apply the Text format automatically by entering an apostrophe before typing the
number. The apostrophe is stored with the cell entry but is not displayed. Excel formats the
number as text.
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