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
• 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).
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