Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Formatting Numbers**

Formatting Cell

Values

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.

General

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