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 Fractional Number Formats.

# Using Fractional Number Formats

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 25, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003

Excel supports fractional number formats when displaying numbers in a cell. In some industries, fractions are the norm. For instance, the building industry routinely uses fractions to measure lumber and distances. If you format a cell correctly, you can enter a number as 12.25 and have it displayed as 12 1/4.

You can specify a pre-defined fractional number format by following these steps:

1. Select the cell (or cells) you want to format.
2. Choose Cell from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
3. Make sure the Number tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
4. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cell dialog box.

5. In the Category list, at the left side of the dialog box, choose Fraction.
6. In the Type list, at the right side of the dialog box, choose the type of fraction you want displayed.
7. Click on OK.

Even though you can use the predefined fractional formats, there is a good chance these will not meet all your fractional needs. When you define your own fraction formats, Excel assumes that if you provide digit place holders on both sides of the slash (/), you are defining a fractional format. For instance, if you are working with inches, you can define the following format:

```#-#/##\"
```

This results in numbers such as 18.75 being displayed as 18-3/4". (The backslash indicates that the following character should be used literally as is, in this case the quote mark.) This is exactly what the building contractor may need to convey specifications or other measurements.

When you define fractional formats, make sure you use, as the denominator to the fraction, the maximum number of digits you want to appear there. Since there are two digits in the denominator of the above example, the largest fraction that can be displayed using this format is 98/99. If you want larger denominators, you must format for them explicitly, as in:

```#–#/###\"
```

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2759) 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 Fractional Number Formats.

##### 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

If you use text boxes in your documents, you may sometime want to place a comment in the text box, the same as you can do ...

Discover More

Ordering Worksheets Based on a Cell Value

Need to sort your worksheets so that they appear in an order determined by the value of a cell on each worksheet? Using a ...

Discover More

Summing Based on Part of a Control Cell

When analyzing data, you may have a need to calculate a sum based on just part of a particular cell. This tip examines ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

Flashing Cells

Want to draw attention to some information in a particular cell? Make the cell flash, on and off. Here's how you can ...

Discover More

Changing Character Spacing

Excel allows you to adjust spacing between cell walls and the contents of those cells. It does not, however, allow you to ...

Discover More

Controlling How Excel Interprets Percentages

When entering data in a worksheet, Excel tries to figure out how your entry can best be shown on the screen. When it ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

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

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. Youâ€™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 seven minus 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your commentâ€”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.