When is Currency Not Currency?

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 18, 2016)

Excel features several shortcuts that allow you to quickly apply formatting to selected cells. For instance, on the Formatting toolbar or the Home tab of the ribbon there are tools that allow you to apply character attributes, such as bold, italics, and underline. There is also a tool that has a dollar sign on it. (Well, it does in the US versions—not sure about what the tool looks like in other countries' versions of Excel.) If you hover the mouse pointer over this tool, the ToolTip that appears says Currency Style.

The fact of the matter is, this tool doesn't really apply the Currency style. What really happens is that the tool applies the Accounting style with the currency symbol selected. You can verify this by selecting a cell, clicking on the Currency Style tool, and then choosing Cells from the Format menu. In the resulting Format Cells dialog box, the Number tab indicates that the selected cell is formatted using the Accounting style.

While the distinction between the Currency style and the Accounting style may not seem like a big deal, it can make a big difference in how information is displayed in the affected cells. The Currency and Accounting styles align numbers and currency symbols differently, and some of the available underline styles work differently in cells formatted with the two styles.

To figure out which format works best for you, make sure you test them both out. And if you really want to use the Currency style, then don't use the Currency Style tool on the toolbar.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2477) 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. ...

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