Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Entering Numerical Data—How it’s Different
Entering Numerical Data—How it’s Different
Now let’s say a few words about entering values—that is, numbers. The basic
techniques are identical for text entry: select a cell, type the value, and conclude the
process with a navigational keystroke, mouse click, or that green tick. And don’t worry
about commas, decimal points, and currency symbols. Those are formatting
embellishments that don’t change the actual value you’ve entered.
NOTE: See Chapter 5 for working with commas, decimal points, and currency symbols.
Figure 2–17. Some ways in which you can format values. Note the rounded off value in the third case.
So far so good. But there’s a quirk about values you’ll want to know about early on:
Excel won’t allow a large value to barge across into the neighboring column. That is, if
you type 1000000000—however that value is translated into English—Excel simply will
prevent it from trespassing into the column next door. So what does Excel do instead?
It does one of several things, depending on what’s gone on in the worksheet before you
entered the value.
By default, Excel carries out a kid of automatic auto fit on a lengthy value—that is, it will
automatically expand the column to display the value in its entirety, without you having
to double-click the column boundary.
But if you had already narrowed that column before you entered the value, Excel
assumes you had a good reason for having done so, and leaves the column width alone.
So instead, it does one of two things:
Displays the value in scientific notation, so
it looks something like Figure 2–18. While
you probably haven’t seen a value
expressed that way since high school, it
does represent a more compact way of
displaying the value in a narrowed column.
Figure 2–18. Remember these? A long value in
scientific notation. The two values are identical.
But if the column is very narrow, such that
it can’t even accommodate the scientific
notation, Excel displays the data as shown
in Figure 2–19. Called pound signs in the
US and hash marks in the UK, they tell the
user that the column is simply too narrow
to display anything else. Pound signs don’t
suggest you’ve made a mistake—what
Figure 2–19. There’s a value in there somewhere, and
it’s the same as the one you can see.
 
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