Making Format Changes

Now that you have mastered Excel basics, it's time to learn the general format categories Excel uses for worksheet data. Table 7.3 describes each of the format categories. Unless you change the default settings, Excel uses the General format for data of all kinds.

Table 7.3. Excel's Fundamental Formats

Format Name



Generally appears exactly the way you enter the data with no special formatting for the numeric data.


Displays for all numeric values with the number of decimal places you set.


Displays a dollar sign and two decimal places for dollar amounts.


Aligns currency and decimal points in a column.


Displays date and time values as values whose formats you can change.


Displays only the time portion of a date and time value.


Displays a percent sign. If you type 50 into the cell , Excel changes your value to 50% . You can set the number of decimal places Excel displays in the percent.


Displays numbers as fractions (great for stock quotes).


Uses scientific notation for all numeric values.


Formats all data as text. Great for ZIP Codes that are all numbers but that you never use for calculations.


Formats ZIP Codes, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers.


Lets you define your own cell format. You can decide whether you want to see the plus or minus sign, and you can control the number of decimal places.

Format a selection by choosing Format, Cells and clicking the Number tab to display the formats shown in Table 7.3. If you select the Time format from that list, you must select one of the Time format display variations so that Excel knows how you want the time displayed.

You can also right-click the selection and select the Format Cells command from the shortcut menu. When you do, you see the Format Cells dialog box. You can use this dialog box to assign the formats directly to your data.


As you saw at the end of the previous hour, Hour 6 "Understanding Excel 2003 Workbooks," you can also use Excel's autoformatting capabilities to easily add style to your worksheet. The next hour, Hour 8, "Using Excel 2003," covers AutoFormat in more detail.

Several Formatting toolbar buttons enable quick formatting of cells using the most common format styles. If you select a cell or a range of cells, you can change the selection's format more quickly with a toolbar button than with the Format, Cells dialog box. Not all Excel's formats are available through the toolbar, but these are: Currency Style, Percent Style, Comma Style, Increase Decimal (to increase the number of decimal places), and Decrease Decimal (to decrease the number of decimal places).

Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Office 2003 in 24 Hours
Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Office 2003 in 24 Hours
ISBN: 0672325535
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 272
Authors: Greg Perry © 2008-2017.
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