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:
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