Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**How Excel Identifies Numbers**

Adding Different

Types of Data

Figure 14-32:

In this worksheet, the

number 42 is stored as

text, thanks to the

apostrophe that precedes it. Excel

notices the apostrophe,

wonders if it’s an

unintentional error, and flags the

cell by putting a tiny green

triangle in the top-left

corner. If you move to the

cell, an exclamation mark

icon appears, and, if you

click that, a menu

appears, letting you choose

to convert the number

or ignore the issue for

this cell. Excel provides a

similar menu if you enter

a text date that has a

two-digit year, as in ‘1-1-

07. In this case, the menu

allows you to convert the

two-digit date to a

fourdigit date that has a year

starting with 19 or 20.

How Excel Identifies Numbers

Excel automatically interprets any cell that contains only numeric characters as a

number. In addition, you can add the following non-numeric characters to a

number without causing a problem:

• One decimal point (but not two). For example, 42.1 is a number, but 42.1.1 is

text.

• One or more commas, provided you use them to separate groups of three

numbers (like thousands, millions, and so on). Thus 1,200,200 is a valid number, but

1,200,20 is text.

• A currency sign ($ for U.S. dollars), provided it’s at the beginning of the number.

• A percent symbol at the beginning or end of the number (but not both).

• A plus (+) or minus (−) sign before the number. You can also create a negative

number by putting it in parentheses. In other words, entering (33) is the same

as entering –33.

• An equal sign at the start of the cell. This tells Excel that you’re starting a

formula (page 763).