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: Changing the Percent Symbol.

Changing the Percent Symbol

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 25, 2017)

2

Brian asked whether it is possible to use a symbol different than the % sign to represent a percentage in a cell. This is actually rather easy to do using a custom format, as described in other ExcelTips. All you need to do is create a custom format that looks similar to this:

0.0"#"

This displays a value followed by a pound sign, so that 12.3 would be displayed as 12.3#. To use a different symbol, just change whatever is within the quote marks. You can also get fancier with the custom format, such as this one that displays the word "widgets" instead of the percent sign and shows negative values in red:

#,##0_)"widgets";[Red](#,##0) "widgets"

The thing to remember about this approach is that the value is displayed "as is," so to speak. When you enter a value into a cell that is formatted as a percentage, Excel can—and often does—modify the value so it is internally consistent with a percentage. For instance, enter the value 12.3 into a cell formatted as a percentage, and Excel converts it to 0.123, which is 12.3%. If you apply a custom format to a cell and then enter the value 12.3, Excel will leave it at 12.3; it won't divide it by 100. While a display of "12.3%" and "12.3#" may look similar, the actual contents of the cell are quite different, assuming that the first is a true percentage and the second is not.

If you don't really care whether the value in the cell is usable in formulas, another approach is that you could concatenate your own symbol to the end of the value. For instance, if you have a percentage in cell A1, you could use the following in a different cell:

=A1 * 100 & " pct"

If cell A1 contains the 12.3% (a cell value of 0.123), then the formula returns "12.3 pct" (without the quote marks). Since what is returned is actually text and no longer a numeric value, the result cannot be used in other numeric formulas.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3459) 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: Changing the Percent Symbol.

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

Nudging an Equation

You can adjust where an equation is printed by moving it minute amounts in any direction.

Discover More

Inserting the Author Name

Did you know that Word tries to keep track of who the author of a document is? This information can be easily added to the ...

Discover More

Specifying the Exact Pages to Print

If you have multiple sections in your document, it can be frustrating to print out a limited selection of pages from that ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Moving Custom Formats to Number Formatting Categories

Moving your custom formats into a formatting category other than "custom" isn't something you can do in Excel. Here's ...

Discover More

Displaying Latitude and Longitude

If you work with geographic data, you may need a way to display latitude and longitude in a worksheet. This tip examines ...

Discover More

Understanding Number Formatting Codes

When creating custom formats, you can employ a wide range of codes to define your formatting pattern. This tip focuses on ...

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 9 - 2?

2017-03-26 19:12:35

Allen

Actually, no. I meant "pound," not "hash." The symbol entails a bit of ambiguity. From Wikipedia: "The symbol # is most commonly known as the number sign, hash, or pound sign."

To generations of Americans, it was known as a "pound sign" for much longer than it has been known as a "hash sign."

-Allen


2017-03-26 18:41:34

Ray Austin

In your opening sentence I guess "pound" should read "hash"
"This displays a value followed by a pound sign, so that 12.3 would be displayed as 12.3#."

Ray A


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.