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 July 13, 2015)

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

Quickly Identifying Applied AutoFilters

Apply an AutoFilter to a worksheet, and you can quickly forget exactly what that AutoFilter entailed. Here are a couple ...

Discover More

Preventing Printing

When dealing with determined users, it is virtually impossible to prevent information in your document from being ...

Discover More

Automatic Numbers with Leading Zeroes

Word's automatic numbering formats allow you to easily create lists that have one leading zero. If you want more than one ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

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

Understanding Color and Conditional Formatting Codes

When you create custom cell formats, you can include codes that allow you to set the color of a cell and that specify the ...

Discover More

Too Many Cell Formats

The error message "too many cell formats" can be difficult to fix. This tip describes ways you can attempt to get rid of ...

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 8 + 7?

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.