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Advanced Excel Training: Format Cell Number

Microsoft Excel is able to recognize a variety of different numbers, but you need to instruct it in the format you require. Simply typing in a digit will not give it any currency, date, percentage, accounting or other number formats. This Excel tutorial will help you learn Excel number formatting easily and allow you to implement it into your spread sheets by using the Format Cell dialog box.

Once you have entered your numbers, highlight the cells you wish to format. Once this is done, there are three ways that you can access the Format Cell window:

  • You can click on Ctrl and 1 simultaneously.
  • A right-click in the highlighted cells will bring up numerous options. Choose Format Cells…
  • In your Home tab on your Excel toolbar, you will see the Number box. It has an arrow pointing down-right. Click on it to bring up your Format Cell dialog box.

Now that you have accessed Format Cells, you should be able to see that it offers twelve number recognitions. Choose the task that you require Excel to perform and click on OK at the bottom. Your choice of action will be immediately implemented into your highlighted cells. Below is a quick Excel guide on what the number formatting options will do if you click on them:

  • General

    There is no particular number format in General cells.

  • Number

    This option will display general numbers without monetary value as positives or negatives, with a separator for decimal spaces.

  • Currency

    A general monetary display will be performed in this option, but you will be able to choose the applicable currency.

  • Accounting

    This format will take currency symbols and decimal points and line them up in a column.

  • Date

    There are several choices for displaying dates within this option. You can separate days, months and years differently and you can choose the format applicable to you.

  • Time

    This option will format time by hours, minutes and even seconds if required. There are multiple choices available.

  • Percentage

    This option will multiply the value within the highlighted cells and multiply them by 100. The result will be displayed, along with a percentage symbol.

  • Fraction

    There are numerous fractions that can be calculated and displayed in this option.

  • Scientific

    This will calculate a scientific number from the values in the highlighted cells.

  • Text

    This format will treat numbers as text, meaning they will display exactly as they were originally entered.

  • Special

    The special format is used to track lists and database values such as phone numbers, zip codes and other specialized numbers.

  • Custom

    This option allows you to customize your number format code by using the listed codes as a starting point.

All that you need to do to format numbers in your spread sheet is choose the relevant option within the Format Cell dialog box. Now you will be able to easily capture dates, accounting figures, currencies, times and more. If you combine this with Excel’s AutoFill feature, you will be able to repeat number patterns automatically and save a great deal of time on typing and formatting them individually.

This article was written after recommendation by our Excel training students in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the greater South Florida area; because it is impossible to create a professional spread sheet if you do not know how to format number cells. For a detailed understanding of how this program works, do not hesitate to watch our live Excel courses.


Hector Garcia CPA and QuickBooks/Excel Trainer

Hector Garcia CPA and QuickBooks/Excel Trainer

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