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: Custom Formats for Scientific Notation.

Custom Formats for Scientific Notation

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 3, 2019)


Reid notes that he can display numbers using scientific notation and they appear in Excel in the format 1.23E+03 or 1.23E-03. He would like the scientific notation to be shown differently, such as 1.23x10^3 or 1.23x10^-3.

There is no way in Excel to change the way in which scientific notation is displayed. The only workaround is to use a formula to put together a text representation of what you want. For instance, if a value that uses Excel's scientific notation is stored in cell C7, you could use the following formula:

=LEFT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),3) & "x10^" & RIGHT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),3)

This formula essentially pulls the left portion of the number (the part before the E) and combines it with the right part of the number (the part after the E) together with the "x10^" notation. The result is considered a text string by Excel; it cannot be used in subsequent calculations.

If you needed to do quite a bit of formatting in this manner, it would be a relatively trivial matter to create a macro that returned the formatted text string based on the number. Create it as a user-defined function and you could then use it in your formulas.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9234) 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: Custom Formats for Scientific Notation.

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. ...


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What is two less than 5?

2019-04-10 13:25:48


If you apply the following format:

.#####,"*10^3" (there's a period at the start)

then 132.52 displays as: .13252*10^3 and 31245132.58 displays as: 31245.13258*10^3

A leading "0" will change decimals from " .xyz " to " ".

Quite a few other variations are available. Adding extra commas before the text portion ups the ante on power of ten being displayed, just like when displaying money amounts as thousands or millions.

The " &10^3 " is just text though, not dynamic to follow the power of ten, and it shows even when one has a blank or 0 in the cell, however, adding " ;; " after the above format, or " ;;0 " has the desirable effect of removing it and not displaying anything, or displaying a bare "0".

While it will work for what you can plan for, and for about four of those, maximum, it is NOT dynamic and will not handle a wide range of powers of ten, just what you can fit in the four customizing places.

However, it WILL round using the 4/5 convention in what it displays (but leave the number itself untouched, as one would expect).

Speaking of "as one would expect"... using any format in TEXT() converts it to what would be displayed if used as a custom format. So any rounding happens for real when filtered through TEXT(). But as an actual custom format for a cell, the rounding is display only.

One can suppress the displayed result after a point (rounding effect still occurs, but rounding at the displayed "edge"). Using:

#,###,"*10^3" (NO period at the start)

will display " 31245132.58" as: " 31,245*10^3 "

and it can march off the powers of ten in sets of three places as far out as one likes.

Take the double quotes off the " *10^3 " and you get vaying odd effects. One result I get for the last number used is: 312451311111 3^3. Along with some other variations, it seems it is splitting the non-decimal portion of the number based upon the "10" in " *10^3 " into a left and right portion but not, say, the left 4 digits on the left, the right 2 digits on the right, but overlapping: the fourth digit appearing in both sides, say, and... make it " *100^3 " and you begin to see what I mean. Oh, and the " ^3 " remains as text added on, even though it is not in double quotes. Playing with the " * " in that text addon, making it an "x" for example, makes me think there's a repeating effect occurring as the digits repeated rather than just overlapped make the display fill the cell while using "x" just creates the odd overlap. Geez, just did five different things including making the 1 in 100 march left to the beginning of the display. Seems one can make any numeric character SET march left through the number. "22" for instance. Spaces as well, but apparently not alpha characters. But... extended characters... ¢ for example... work too.

Well, lots to explore here, eh. But it DOES do what Reid asked for, except for not being dynamic, and therefore limited to controlled and known value ranges.

2017-10-02 12:59:31


=SUBSTITUTE(TEXT(A1,"0.0000000E+0"),"E","*10^") works better.

Chang e"0.0000000E+0" to whatever precision you need.

2017-05-09 10:17:34


it's great. thank you so much

2016-04-01 12:48:35

David Hagar

Here it is!!!!
All you have to do is place a # at the beginning of the regular scientific notation to format in engineering notation!!!

format: 0.000E+00 #00.000 E+00
number: 3.142E+14 314.159E+12
3.142E+12 03.142E+12
3.142E+11 314.159E+09
3.142E+10 31.416E+09
3.142E+09 03.142E+09

2014-11-15 10:13:49

Pieter de la Court

Finally: a function for proper scientific notation!
For a very long time I have been looking for a function that converts a number to text in the real scientific format, not the clumsy notation with E+23 or 10^-5.
Finally I think I found a solution.
Rather than formatting part of the string into superscript, the function uses Unicode characters for superscript "0" to "9" and superscript "-".
The basic VBA function for the exponent part is given below. This can easily be extended to a function doing the whole number with automatic mantissa and exponent calculation.

Function SciExp(Expon As Integer) As String

Dim sExpon As String
Dim i As Integer
Dim e As String
Dim Dig As String
Dim U As Long

sExpon = CStr(Expon)
e = ""

If Expon = 0 Then
SciExp = ""
Exit Function
End If

For i = 1 To Len(sExpon)
Dig = CStr(Mid(sExpon, i, 1))

Select Case Dig
Case "0"
U = 8304
Case "1"
U = 185
Case "2"
U = 178
Case "3"
U = 179
Case "4"
U = 8308
Case "5"
U = 8309
Case "6"
U = 8310
Case "7"
U = 8311
Case "8"
U = 8312
Case "9"
U = 8313
Case "-"
U = 8315
End Select

e = e & ChrW(U)
Next i

SciExp = ChrW(183) & "10" & e
End Function

Hope this will help a lot of scientists out there...

Pieter de la Court

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