Quick, clean, and to the point

How to use number formatting in Excel

In this lesson, we'll look at the Number format called "Number." The Number format provides three options: the ability to set a fixed number of decimal places, an option to use commas to separate thousandths, and several ways to display negative numbers.

Let's take a look.

To start off, let's copy the numbers in column B to the rest of our table.

The format of all cells in the table is General, so let's apply the Number format to columns C through H.

The default settings for Number format are two decimal places, no commas to separate thousandths, and a standard minus sign for negative numbers.

Let's make adjustments to the Number format to match the headings in our table.

By default, the Number format will display two decimal places, rounding numbers as needed.

We can easily change the number of decimal places using buttons on the ribbon. One button increases decimal places, and the other button decreases decimal places.

The ribbon also has a button that turns on "comma style." When clicked, Excel will add a comma to group thousandths for larger numbers. However, note that using this button will switch the format from Number to Accounting, which may not be desired.

To keep the Number format, you can enable the comma style using the Cell Format dialog box instead.

Finally, Number format has several options for displaying negative numbers. For example, negative numbers can be displayed in parentheses. Or, in red.

In all cases, only the display of the number has changed; the underlying value of each number has not changed. We can verify this by selecting cells and checking the values displayed in the formula bar.

Dave Bruns

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