Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 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: Controlling How Excel Interprets Percentages.

Controlling How Excel Interprets Percentages

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 9, 2019)

When you format a cell to display percentages, Excel assumes that whatever you enter into that cell in the future will be a percentage. Thus, if you enter the number.5, Excel translates the value as 50%. Likewise, if you enter .75, then Excel treats the value as 75%.

A potential problem comes into play, however, when you start to enter numbers greater than or equal to one. For instance, if you put in the number 12, do you mean 12% or 1200%? By default, Excel thinks you mean the latter. Excel includes a control that allows you to specify how you want it to interpret what you enter. If you want Excel to treat the value as 12% instead of 1200%, then you can follow these steps if you are using Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003. (The control is not available in Excel 97.)

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Edit tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Edit tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Enable Automatic Percent Entry check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3013) applies to Microsoft Excel 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Controlling How Excel Interprets Percentages.

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

Returning the MODE of a Range

The MODE function is used to determine the most frequently recurring value in a range. This tip explains how to use the ...

Discover More

Working with Form Fields

You know you want to use form fields in your document (they are essential in creating forms, after all) but you need to ...

Discover More

Picking a Contiguous Range of Table Cells

Creating a table in Word is a relatively simple task. When you want to format or edit information in the table, often the ...

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)

Changing Font Size Using a Shortcut Key

Want to adjust the font size used in a cell or range of cells? It's easy to do by using the shortcut described in this tip.

Discover More

Sorting ZIP Codes

Sorting ZIP Codes can be painless, provided all the codes are formatted the same. Here's how to do the sorting if you ...

Discover More

Stopping Fractions from Reducing

Enter a fraction into Excel, and you may be surprised that the program reduces the faction to its simplest form. If you ...

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. 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 2 + 4?

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.