Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Techniques for entering data
If you end a numeric entry with a percent sign (%), Excel assigns a Percentage format
to the cell. For example, if you type 23% , Excel displays 23% in the formula bar and
assigns a Percentage format to the cell, which also displays 23%.
If you use a slash (/) in a numeric entry and the string cannot be interpreted as a
date, Excel interprets the number as a fraction. For example, if you type 11 5/8 (with
a space between the number and the fraction), Excel assigns a Fraction format to the
entry, meaning the formula bar displays 11.625 and the cell displays 11 5/8.
Note
To be sure that Excel does not interpret a fraction as a date, precede the fraction with
a zero and a space. For example, to prevent Excel from interpreting the fraction 1/2 as
January 2, type 0 1/2.
For more about the built-in Excel Number formats, see “Formatting in depth” in Chapter 9.
For more information about date and time formats, see “How AutoFill handles dates and
times” in Chapter 8.
Understanding the difference between displayed values and
underlying values
Although you can type 32,767 characters in a cell, a numeric cell entry can maintain
precision to a maximum of only 15 digits. This means you can type numbers longer than 15
digits in a cell, but Excel converts any digits after the 15th to zeros. If you are working with
figures greater than 999 trillion or decimals smaller than trillionths, perhaps you need to
look into alternative solutions, such as a Cray supercomputer!
If you type a number that is too long to appear in a cell, Excel converts it to scientific
notation in the cell if you haven’t applied any other formatting. Excel adjusts the precision of
the scientific notation depending on the cell width. If you type a very large or very small
number that is longer than the formula bar, Excel displays it in the formula bar using
scientific notation. In Figure 6-8, we typed the same number in cell A1 and cell B1; because cell
B1 is wider, Excel displays more of the number but still displays it using scientific notation.
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