Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**A Quicker Cut-and-Paste or Copy-and-Paste**

Moving Cells Around

FreqUently Asked qUestion

The Mysterious Number Signs

What does it mean when I see ####### in a cell?

For a quicker solution, double-click the right edge of the

column to automatically make it large enough.

A series of number signs is Excel’s way of telling you that

a column isn’t wide enough to display the number or date

that it contains (see Figure 15-6). Sometimes these signs

appear when you’re copying a big number into smaller cell.

This error doesn’t usually occur while you’re entering

information for the first time because Excel automatically resizes

columns to accommodate any numbers you type in. The

problem is more likely to crop up if you shrink a column

afterward, or if you cut some numeric cells from a wide

column and paste them into a much narrower column.

To verify the source of your problem, just move to the

offending cell and then check the formula bar to see your

complete number or date. Excel doesn’t use the number

signs with text cells—if those cells aren’t large enough to

hold their data, the words simply spill over to the adjacent

cell (if it’s blank) or become truncated (if the adjacent cell

has some content).

The problem here is that Excel needs a certain amount of

space to show your number. It’s not acceptable to show

just the first two digits from the number 412, for example,

because that will look like the completely different number

41. However, Excel will trim off decimal places, if it can,

which means that it will show 412.22344364 as 412.223

in a narrow column, while storing the full value with all the

decimal places behind the scenes. But when the column is

too narrow to show the whole number part of your value,

or if you’ve set a required number of decimal places for

your cell and the column is too narrow to accommodate

them, Excel shows the number signs to flag the problem.

There’s one other situation that can cause a cell to display

#######. If you create a formula that subtracts one

time from another and the result is a
negative
time value,

you see the same series of number signs. (Chapter 17 has

more about formulas.) But, in this case, column resizing

doesn’t help.

Fortunately, it’s easy to solve this problem—just position the

mouse pointer at the right edge of the cell header and drag

it to the right to enlarge the column. Provided you’ve made

the column large enough, the missing number reappears.

Figure 15-6:

Cell C4 has a wide

number in an overly

narrow column. You can see

the mystery number if

you move to the cell and

check out the formula

bar (it’s 10,042.01), or

you can expand the

column to a more

reasonable width.

A Quicker Cut-and-Paste or Copy-and-Paste

If you want a really quick way to cut and paste data, you can use Excel’s drag-and-

drop feature. It works like this: