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Custom Formats for Scientific Notation

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: Custom Formats for Scientific Notation.

Reid notes that he can display numbers using scientific notation and they appear in Excel in the format 1.23E+03 or 1.23E-03. He would like the scientific notation to be shown differently, such as 1.23x10^3 or 1.23x10^-3.

There is no way in Excel to change the way in which scientific notation is displayed. The only workaround is to use a formula to put together a text representation of what you want. For instance, if a value that uses Excel's scientific notation is stored in cell C7, you could use the following formula:

=LEFT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),3) & "x10^" & RIGHT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),3)

This formula essentially pulls the left portion of the number (the part before the E) and combines it with the right part of the number (the part after the E) together with the "x10^" notation. The result is considered a text string by Excel; it cannot be used in subsequent calculations.

If you needed to do quite a bit of formatting in this manner, it would be a relatively trivial matter to create a macro that returned the formatted text string based on the number. Create it as a user-defined function and you could then use it in your formulas.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9234) 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: Custom Formats for Scientific Notation.

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Comments for this tip:

David Hagar    01 Apr 2016, 12:48
Here it is!!!!
All you have to do is place a # at the beginning of the regular scientific notation to format in engineering notation!!!

format: 0.000E+00 #00.000 E+00
number: 3.142E+14 314.159E+12
         3.142E+12 03.142E+12
         3.142E+11 314.159E+09
         3.142E+10 31.416E+09
         3.142E+09 03.142E+09
Pieter de la Court    15 Nov 2014, 10:13
Finally: a function for proper scientific notation!
For a very long time I have been looking for a function that converts a number to text in the real scientific format, not the clumsy notation with E+23 or 10^-5.
Finally I think I found a solution.
Rather than formatting part of the string into superscript, the function uses Unicode characters for superscript "0" to "9" and superscript "-".
The basic VBA function for the exponent part is given below. This can easily be extended to a function doing the whole number with automatic mantissa and exponent calculation.

Function SciExp(Expon As Integer) As String

Dim sExpon As String
Dim i As Integer
Dim e As String
Dim Dig As String
Dim U As Long

    sExpon = CStr(Expon)
    e = ""
    If Expon = 0 Then
        SciExp = ""
        Exit Function
    End If
    For i = 1 To Len(sExpon)
        Dig = CStr(Mid(sExpon, i, 1))

        Select Case Dig
            Case "0"
                U = 8304
            Case "1"
                U = 185
            Case "2"
                U = 178
            Case "3"
                U = 179
            Case "4"
                U = 8308
            Case "5"
                U = 8309
            Case "6"
                U = 8310
            Case "7"
                U = 8311
            Case "8"
                U = 8312
            Case "9"
                U = 8313
            Case "-"
                U = 8315
        End Select
        e = e & ChrW(U)
    Next i
    SciExp = ChrW(183) & "10" & e
End Function

Hope this will help a lot of scientists out there...

Pieter de la Court

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