Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Understanding the General format**

If you type
1 3/8
(with a single space between 1 and 3), 1 3/8 appears in the cell and

1.375 appears in the formula bar. However, if you type
3/8
, then 8-Mar appears in

the cell, because date formats take precedence over fraction formats. Assuming you

make the entry in the year 2013, then 3/8/2013 appears in the formula bar. To display

3/8 in the cell as a fraction so that 0.375 appears in the formula bar, you must type

0 3/8
(with a space between 0 and 3). Of course, you can always type
.375
and then

apply the Fraction format. For information about typing dates and a complete listing

of date and time formats, see “Entering dates and times” in Chapter 14.

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If you type
23%
in a cell, Excel applies the no-decimal percentage format to the cell,

and 23% appears in the formula bar. Nevertheless, Excel uses the 0.23 decimal value

for calculations.

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If you type
123,456
in a cell, Excel applies the comma format without decimal places.

If you type
123,456.00
, Excel formats the cell with the comma format including two

decimal places.

●

Note

Leading zeros are almost always dropped, unless you create or use a format specifically

designed to preserve them. For example, when you type 0123 in a cell, Excel displays

the value 123, dropping the leading zero. Excel provides custom formats for a couple

of commonly needed leading-zero applications—namely, ZIP codes and Social Security

numbers—on the Number tab, Special category of the Format Cells dialog box. For

more information, see “Using the special formats” later in this chapter. For information

about creating your own formats, see “Creating custom number formats” later in this

chapter.

Understanding the General format

The General format is the default format for all cells. Although it is not just a number

format, it is nonetheless always the first number format category listed. Unless you specifically

change the format of a cell, Excel displays any text or numbers you type in the General

format. Except in the cases listed next, the General format displays exactly what you type. For

example, if you type
123.45
, the cell displays 123.45. Here are the four exceptions:

The General format abbreviates numbers too long to display in a cell. For example,

if you type
12345678901234
(an integer) into a standard-width cell, Excel displays

1.23457E+13.

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Long decimal values are also rounded or displayed in scientific notation. Thus, if

you type
123456.7812345
in a standard-width cell, the General format displays