Format numbers

Apply number formats, such as dates, currency, or fractions to cells in a worksheet. For example, if you’re working on your quarterly budget, you can use the Currency number format to display your numbers to represent money. Or, if you have a column of dates, you can specify that you want the dates to appear as March 14, 2012, 14-Mar-12, or 3/14.

Follow these steps to format numbers:

  1. Select the cells containing the numbers you need to format.

  2. Press CTRL+1.

    On a Mac, press Control+1, or Command+1.

  3. In the Format Cells popup window, click the Number tab.

  4. Pick the number format Category that you want, and then choose specific formatting changes on the right.

    Format Cells dialog box

Tip: Do you have numbers showing up in your cells as #####? This probably means your cell isn’t wide enough to show the whole number. Try double-clicking the right border of the column that contains the cells with #####. This will resize the column to fit the number. You can also drag the right border of the column to make it any size you want.

Stop your numbers from automatically formatting

Sometimes you may enter numbers into a cell—or import them from another data source—but Excel doesn't formats those numbers as you expect. If, for example, you type a number together with a slash mark (/) or a hyphen (-), Excel might think you’re typing a date and apply a Date format. You can prevent this automatic number formatting by applying the Text format to the cells.

It's easy to do:

  1. Select the cells containing the numbers you need prevent automatic formatting.

  2. Press CTRL+1.

    On a Mac, press Control+1, or Command+1.

  3. On the Number tab, click Text in the Category list.

    Save as Text in the Format Cells dialog box

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

See Also

Format a date the way you want

Display numbers as percentages

Format negative percentages to make them easy to find

Format numbers as currency

Create a custom number format

Convert dates stored as text to dates

Convert numbers stored as text to numbers

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