Understanding Number Formatting Codes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 10, 2021)

1

The most frequently used formatting codes are those that affect straight numbers. Excel provides many of them, as shown here:

Symbol Meaning
General Uses the general display format.
# Indicates a single-digit position. The digit is only displayed if there is a digit in that position.
0 Indicates a single-digit position. If there is no digit in the position, a 0 is displayed.
? Same as the 0 symbol, except results in a space being displayed for insignificant 0s on either side of the decimal point.
. (period) The decimal point.
% Percentage. The number is multiplied by 100 (for the display) and the % sign is added.
, (comma) Thousands separator (if surrounded by digit place holders) or a thousands scalar (if the comma follows all the place holders).
E- E+ e- e+ Displays in scientific format.
$ - + / ( ) : space Displays that character
\ Forces display of the following character
* Repeats the next character to fill out the column width.
_ (underscore) Leaves a space the width of the following character.
"text" Displays the text within the quotes.
@ Text place holder.

To understand better what these codes do, take a look at the information in the following table, which shows several common formats and how they affect numbers.

Category Format Value Displayed As
Number #,##0.00 .01 0.01
  .1 0.10
  1234 1,234.00
  -5678 -5,678.00
Percentage 0.00% .01 1.00%
  .1 10.00%
  1.234 123.40%
  -5.678 -567.80%
Scientific 0.00E+00 .01 1.00E-02
  .1 1.00E-01
  1234 1.23E+03
  -5678 -5.68E+03
Currency $#,##0.00_);[Red]($#,##0.00) .01 $0.01
  .1 $0.10
  1234 $1,234.00
  -5678 ($5,678.00)

No matter which format is used to display numbers, the actual accuracy of the number is not affected. Thus, if a number is displayed using two decimal places, it is still maintained internally to 15 decimal places. All calculations are performed using the more accurate internal representation.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1939) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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

Adding a Drop Shadow to a Text Box

Drop shadows add a nice touch to text boxes, making it seem like they are hovering above the page. Here's the simple ...

Discover More

Creating a Table of Authorities

In legal documents a table of authorities is a common element. Creating the table is easy to do if you apply the ...

Discover More

Adding Vertical Lines Between Columns

Columns can be an integral part of your document layout. In some instances you may want Word to insert a vertical line ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Conditional Page Breaks

Need to have your worksheet printout start on a new page every time a value in a column changes? There are a couple of ...

Discover More

Displaying Zeros

There are times when displaying zero values in a worksheet (especially if there are lots of them) can be distracting from ...

Discover More

Altering the Displayed Format of Numbers to the Nearest 100

Want information in a worksheet to be formatted and displayed as rounded to a power of ten? You may be out of luck, ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 one more than 1?

2021-05-15 23:04:10

AnonymousGlitchExe14

*!(!$#*!*!#@&$_*#$#^#%#@!*!#@#!_^!(#_1&$*!_@!^!#@#@^@#@*!&$_&#$#$!$@*!&#__/__&__\__(!$#%#%#_&!@!(#_4_$!*!.-.-.-.--.-.- Each 2 symbols are a number ( example - @! = 21 <~ which this number is a single letter ) each set of 2 numbers represent a signal letter . The two digit number is in Ancient, Greek - Arminian & Iraq. All blended together to spell out a word. (Each underscore is a space between each word).. Have fun figuring it out.


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.