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).