Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Formatting Numbers
Formatting Cell
even the sharpest spreadsheet reader), and it makes sure you get exactly the
formatting and precision you want. You can apply formatting to the column before or after
you enter the numbers. And it doesn’t matter if a cell is currently empty; Excel still
keeps track of the number format you’ve applied.
Different number formats provide different options. For example, if you choose the
Currency format, then you can choose from dozens of currency symbols. When you
use the Number format, you can choose to add commas (to separate groups of three
digits) or parentheses (to indicate negative numbers). Most number formats let you
set the number of decimal places.
The following sections give a quick tour of the predefined number formats available
in the Format Cells dialog box’s Number tab. Figure 16-5 gives you an overview of
how different number formats affect similar numbers.
Figure 16-5:
Each column contains
the same list of
numbers. Although
this worksheet shows
an example for each
number format (except
dates and times), it
doesn’t show all your
options. Each number
format has its own
settings (like the number
of decimal places)
that affect how Excel
displays data.
The General format is Excel’s standard number format; it applies no special
formatting other than the basic rules described on page 443. General is the only number
format (other than Text) that doesn’t limit your data to a fixed number of decimal
places. That means if you want to display numbers that differ wildly in precision (like
0.5, 12.334, and 0.120986398), it makes sense to use General format. On the other
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