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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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