Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Understanding the Types of Data**

Understanding the Types of Data

When you type something into a cell in a worksheet, Excel goes to work and makes one of the

following decisions regarding the type of data you entered:

h
You entered a value.

h
You entered a date or time.

h
You entered some text.

h
You entered a formula.

If you understand how Excel interprets the data you enter into a cell, you can save yourself a bit

of frustration when Excel’s decision about what you entered doesn’t correspond to what you had

in mind.

Entering values

Any cell entry that consists of numerical digits is considered a
value.
Values can also include a

few special characters:

h
Negative sign:
If a negative sign (–) precedes the value, Excel interprets it as a negative

number.

h
Plus sign:
If a plus sign (+) precedes the value, Excel interprets it as a positive number

(and does not display the plus sign).

h
Parentheses:
If a positive number is enclosed in parentheses, Excel interprets it as a

negative value.

h
Percent sign:
If a percent sign (%) follows the numbers, Excel interprets the value as a

percentage and automatically applies percent numeric formatting.

h
Currency symbol:
If your system’s currency symbol (for example, a dollar sign) precedes

the numbers, Excel interprets the entry as a monetary value and automatically formats it

as currency.

h
Thousands separator:
If the number includes one or more of your system’s thousands

separators (for example, a comma), Excel interprets the entry as a number and also

applies numeric formatting to display the thousands separator symbol. Note that the

thousands separator must be in the appropriate position. For example, if the comma is

your system’s thousands separator, Excel interprets 4,500 as a value but does not

interpret 45,00 as a value.

h
Scientific notation:
If the value contains the letter
Excel attempts to interpret it as
E,

entific notation. For example, 3.2E5 is interpreted as 3.2

×

10
5
.