Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Formatting Cell Values
Formatting Cell
Values
Note: Keep in mind that regardless of how you format your cell values, Excel maintains an unalterable
value for every number entered. For more on how Excel internally stores numbers, see the box on page
445.
In this chapter, you’ll learn about cell value formatting, and then unleash your inner
artist with cell appearance formatting.
Formatting Cell Values
The basic principle behind cell value formatting is this: the cell value that Excel stores
doesn’t necessarily match the cell value it displays . This gives you the best of both
worlds. Your cells can store super-accurate values, but you don’t need to clutter your
worksheet with numbers that have 13 decimal places.
To make your worksheet’s as clear and readable as possible, you need to make sure
that the display value is in a form that makes sense for your spreadsheet. Figure 16-1
shows how Excel can show the same number in a variety of different ways.
Figure 16-1:
This worksheet
shows how different
formatting can affect
the appearance
of the same data.
Each of the cells B2,
B3, and B4 contain
the same number:
5.18518518518519.
In the formula bar,
Excel always displays
the exact number
it’s storing, as you
see here with cell B2.
However, in the
worksheet itself, each cell’s
appearance differs
depending on how
you format the cell.
The first time you type a number or date into a blank cell, Excel makes an educated
guess about the number format you want. For example, if you type in a currency
value like $34.99, Excel assumes you want a number format that uses the dollar sign.
If you then type in a new number in the same cell without a dollar sign (say, 18.75),
Excel adds the dollar sign automatically (making it $18.75).
 
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