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Matching Formatting when Concatenating

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Matching Formatting when Concatenating.

When using a formula to merge the contents of multiple cells into one cell, Kris is having trouble getting Excel to preserve the formatting of the original cells. For example, assume that cells A1 and B1 contain 1 and 0.33, respectively. In cell C1, he enters the following formula:

=A1 & " : " & B1

The result in cell C1 looks like this:

1 : 0.3333333333

The reason that the resulting C1 doesn't match what is shown in B1 (0.33) is because the value in B1 isn't really 0.33. Internally, Excel maintains values to 15 digits, so that if cell B1 contains a formula such as =1/3, internally this is maintained as 0.33333333333333. What you see in cell B1, however, depends on how the cell is formatted. In this case, the formatting probably is set to display only two digits beyond the decimal point.

There are several ways you can get the desired results in cell C1, however. One method is to simply modify your formula a bit so that the values pulled from cells A1 and B1 are formatted. For instance, the following example uses the TEXT function to do the formatting:

=TEXT(A1,"0") & " : " & TEXT(B1,"0.00")

In this case, A1 is formatted to display only whole numbers and B1 is formatted to display only two decimal places.. You could also use the ROUND function to achieve a similar result:

=ROUND(A1,0) & " : " & ROUND(B1,2)

Another possible solution is to change how Excel deals with precision in the workbook. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Calculation tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Calculation tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Ensure that the Precision As Displayed check box is selected.
  5. Click OK.

Now, Excel uses the precision shown on the screen in all of its calculations and concatenations instead of doing calculations at the full 15-digit precision it normally maintains. While this approach may be acceptable for some users, for others it will present more problems than it solves. You will need to determine if you can live with the lower precision in order to get the output formatted the way you expect.

Still another approach is to create your own user-defined function that will return what is displayed for the target cell, rather than what is stored there. The following macro will work great in this regard:

Function FmtText(rng As Range)
    FmtText = rng.Cells(1).Text
End Function

To use this macro, you would use a formula like this in your worksheet:

=FmtText(A1) & " : " & FmtText(B1)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3213) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Matching Formatting when Concatenating.

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Comments for this tip:

Philippe    09 Sep 2016, 05:58

I'm not the kind of guy to leave a comment on a website, but I had to.

This may be the most useful yet simple macro I've ever used, it really is perfect.

Thanks for it!

Alan    09 Jun 2016, 16:03
The Format Text macro is a great, easy solution. Thanks Allen!
ROMAN TITENOK    24 Jun 2015, 09:39
John    09 Jun 2015, 19:09
The sheet has a Round function that was not displaying the trailing zero. The TEXT(B1,"0.00") worked great. Thanks
Barry    06 Apr 2015, 06:36

Use the formula:

=Text (A1, "dd/mm/yyyy") or use +text(A1, "d/m/yy") if you don't want leading zeroes on the days and moonths and a two-digit year.

the second parameter of the Text function can contain any of the formatting patterns found under the "format cells" dialogue or you can create your own. My favourite ofr date which avoids confusion with American style dates is "d-mmm-yyyy".
Laura    03 Mar 2015, 14:03
Thanks so much, this was a big help in updating a price list.
Craig Nordmark    15 Dec 2014, 10:56
Is there a way to do a concatenation if one of the values is a date and keep the date format?

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