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: Using an Exact Number of Digits.

Using an Exact Number of Digits

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 13, 2014)

Henk asked if there is a way in Excel to display a number using six digits, independent of the placement of the decimal point. For instance, 0.1 would be displayed as 0.10000, 200 would be displayed as 200.000, and 25000 would be displayed as 25000.0.

Unfortunately, there is no formatting that will do the trick; all display formatting seems to be dependent on the position of the decimal point. You can format a display for a specific number of digits after the decimal point, but that number of digits will be used regardless of how many digits appear before the decimal point.

Several ExcelTips subscribers came up with suggestions that involve using formulas to display the number as desired. For instance, the following formula will display the value in A1 using six digits:

=FIXED(A1,IF(ABS(A1)<1,5,5-INT(LOG(ABS(A1)))),TRUE)

Other readers provided formulas that relied on converting the number to a text string and displaying it as such. Converting a number to its textual equivalent, however, has the distinct drawback of no longer being able to use the number in other formulas. (Remember—it is text at this point, not a number.) The above formula does not have that limitation.

If you wanted to, you could also use a macro to set the formatting within a cell that contains a value. The advantage to such a macro is that you don't have to use a cell for a formula, as shown above. The drawback to a macro is that you need to remember to run it on the cells whenever values within them change. The following macro is an example of such an approach:

Sub SetFigures()
    Dim iDecimals As Integer
    Dim bCommas As Boolean
    Dim sFormat As String
    Dim CellRange As Range
    Dim TestCell As Range

    bCommas = False 'Change as desired

    Set CellRange = Selection
    For Each TestCell In CellRange
        If Abs(TestCell.Value) < 1 Then
            iDecimals = 5
        Else
            iDecimals = 5 - Int(Log(Abs(TestCell.Value)) / Log(10#))
        End If

        sFormat = "0"
        If bCommas Then sFormat = "#,##0"
        If iDecimals < 0 Then sFormat = "General"
        If iDecimals > 0 Then sFormat = sFormat & _
          "." & String(iDecimals, "0")

        TestCell.NumberFormat = sFormat
    Next TestCell
End Sub

In order to use the macro, simply select the cells you want to format, then execute it. Each cell in the range you selected is set to display six digits, unless the number in the cell is too large or too small.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1933) 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: Using an Exact Number of Digits.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Having Numbered Lists in Subdocuments Restart their Numbering

If you have a bunch of subdocuments, and each of those subdocuments contains numbered lists, you may find that you have ...

Discover More

Detecting Errors in Conditional Formatting Formulas

If an error exists in a formula tucked inside a conditional format, you may never know it is there. There are ways to find ...

Discover More

Over a Hundred Free Windows E-Books

The Internet always provides a huge amount of information, some of it actually of value. Here's a link to a resource that ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Handling Negative Numbers in a Complex Custom Format

Custom formats are great for defining how a specific value in a cell should look. They aren't that great at doing complex ...

Discover More

Using Strikethrough Formatting

Need a line through the middle of your text? Use strikethrough formatting, which is easy to apply using the Format Cells ...

Discover More

Automatically Copying Formatting

It's easy to automatically set the contents of one cell to be equal to another cell. But what if you want to copy the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.