Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Using the Format Cells Dialog Box
Even if you’re a really, really good typist and prefer to enter each value exactly
as you want it to appear in the worksheet, you still have to resort to using
number formats to make the values that are calculated by formulas match the
others you enter. This is because Excel applies a General number format
(which the Format Cells dialog box defines: “General format cells have no
specific number format.”) to all the values it calculates, as well as any you enter
that don’t exactly follow one of the other Excel number formats. The biggest
problem with the General format is that it has the nasty habit of dropping all
leading and trailing zeros from the entries. This makes it very hard to line up
numbers in a column on their decimal points.
You can view this sad state of affairs in Figure 3-8, which is a sample
worksheet with the first-quarter 2013 sales figures for Mother Goose Enterprises
before any of the values have been formatted. Notice how the decimal in
the numbers in the monthly sales figures columns zig and zag because
they aren’t aligned on the decimal place. This is the fault of Excel’s General
number format; the only cure is to format the values with a uniform number
Figure 3-8:
decimals don’t
align when
you choose
Accounting for the dollars and cents in your cells
Given the financial nature of most worksheets, you probably use the
Accounting number format more than any other. Applying this format is
easy because you can assign it to the cell selection simply by clicking the
Accounting Number Format button on the Home tab.
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