How to Format Numbers in Microsoft Excel

In Brief...

By default, numbers in Microsoft Excel do not show commas and do show the first two decimals (unless they are 0). However, numbers can be formatted to appear in many different ways.

This feature works the same in all modern versions of Microsoft Excel: 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Instructions

Number Formats

Numbers in Excel can be formatted to show commas, show currency symbols, appear as percentages, and more.

To display numbers with a thousands separator (a comma) in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Select the cells for which you wish to display numbers with a thousands separator.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Comma Style command.
    Comma Style Command

To display numbers with a currency symbol in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Select the cells for which you wish to display a currency symbol.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Accounting Number Format command (or the drop-down arrow to select a currency symbol other than the one displayed).
    Accounting Number Format Command

To display numbers as percentages in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Select the cells for which you wish to display numbers as percentages.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Percent Style command.
    Percent Style Command

Date Formats

Microsoft Excel actually stores dates as numbers, so displaying dates is really a formatting issue. Excel allows you to display dates in many ways. For example, January 15, 2016 can be displayed as:

  1. 01/15/2016
  2. 01/15/16
  3. 1/15/16
  4. 1/15
  5. 15-Jan
  6. 15-Jan-16
  7. Jan-16
  8. January-16
  9. January 15, 2016
  10. Saturday, January 15, 2016

To set or change the way dates are displayed in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Select the cell or cells for which you wish to change the way dates are displayed.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Dialog Box Launcher.
    Dialog Box Launcher

  3. In the Format Cells dialog box, in the Number tab, select Date in the Category box and choose a format from the Type box.
    Select Date and Type

  4. Click OK.

Showing Decimals

To change the number of decimals showing for numbers in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Select the cell or cells for which you wish to change the number of decimals showing for numbers.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Increase Decimal or the Decrease Decimal command.
    Increase/Decrease Decimal Commands

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Author: Dave Dunn

Dave Dunn joined Webucator as Chief Operating Officer in early 2009. He has served as a CFO and COO for numerous small and medium-sized companies, including Summit Software Company, Insight Research Group, Avalon Consulting, CampaignBase.com and HealthcareOne. He has expertise in business development, financial management, marketing and human resources and particularly enjoys working with rapidly growing companies.

Dave received his Bachelor of Arts from Hamilton College and his MBA from Syracuse University. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Montessori School of Syracuse since 2001.

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