Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Formatting Numbers
Formatting Cell
Values
You can choose to have fractions with three digits (for example, 100/200), two digits
(10/20), or just one digit (1/2), using the top three choices in the Type list. For
example, if you enter the number 0.51, then Excel shows it as 1/2 in one-digit mode,
and the more precise 51/100 in three-digit mode. In some cases, you may want all
numbers to use the same denominator (the bottom number in the fraction) so that
it’s easy to compare different numbers. (Don’t you wish Excel had been around when
you were in grammar school?) In this case, you can choose to show all fractions as
halves (with a denominator of 2), quarters (a denominator of 4), eighths (8),
sixteenths (16), tenths (10), and hundredths (100). For example, the number 0.51
displays as 2/4 if you choose quarters.
Tip: Entering a fraction in Excel can be awkward because Excel may attempt to convert it to a date. To
prevent this confusion, always start by entering 0, and then a space. For example, instead of typing 2/3
enter 0 2/3 (which means zero and two-thirds). If you have a whole number and a fraction, like 1 2/3, you’ll
also be able to duck the date confusion.
Scientific
The Scientific format displays numbers using scientific notation, which is ideal
when you need to handle numbers that range widely in size (like 0.0003 and 300)
in the same column . Scientific notation displays the first non-zero digit of a number,
followed by a fixed number of digits, and then indicates what power of 10 that
number needs to be multiplied by to generate the original number. For example, 0.0003
becomes 3.00 × 10 −4 (displayed in Excel as 3.00E-04). The number 300, on the other
hand, becomes 3.00 × 10 2 (displayed in Excel as 3.00E02). Scientists—surprise,
surprise—like the Scientific format for doing things like recording experimental data
or creating mathematical models to predict when an incoming meteor will strike
the Earth.
timesAVinG tip
Shortcuts in the Ribbon
You don’t need to waste hours jumping between your
worksheet and the Format Cells dialog box. The ribbon gets
you to some of the most commonly used number formats
in the Home➝Number section.
One of the neatest features is the list of currency options
for the Accounting button. If you click the drop-down
arrow on the Accounting button (which looks like a dollar
sign), you see a list with different currency symbols you can
choose (like Pounds, Euros, Chinese Yuan, and so on). But
if you click the other portion of the Accounting button (not
the arrow), you get the currency symbol that’s appropriate,
based on your computer’s regional settings.
The Home➝Number section’s most prominent part is the
drop-down list of number formats (Figure 16-6). Just
underneath are buttons that let you apply one of the three
most common formats: Accounting, Percent, or Number.
Just to the right are two buttons that let you increase or
decrease the number of decimal places that you see at once.

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