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

Turning On Property Information Prompting

You may want to make sure that users of a document fill in the properties associated with a document. In most versions of ...

Discover More

Setting Data Validation Input Messages

When using data validation, you might want to have Excel display a message when someone starts to enter information into ...

Discover More

Displaying Quick Document Statistics

Need to see how many pages, words, paragraphs, or lines are in your document? Word makes it easy to retrieve such ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

Formatting Raw Data

When you get a bunch of raw data into Excel from an external source, it isn't going to be formatted to your liking. The ...

Discover More

Setting Text Attributes

Want to change the attributes of your text (or what Excel refers to as font styles)? Here's how to do it.

Discover More

Working with Fonts

Windows allows you to install different fonts that control how information is displayed and printed. This tip gives a ...

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 one less than 7?

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.