Numeric values are usually more than just numbers. They often represent dollar values, dates, percentages, or some other value. You can select the format type that appears as a real value in the Format Cells dialog box. To narrow the list of formats, first select a category in the Category list, then specify the number of decimal places. The default number of decimal places is two.

Excel lets you display numeric values in many ways. Formatting a number means changing the way it is displayed. You can format the number 500 to look like currency, in which case it's displayed as `$500.00`. You can even specify as many decimal places as you want to display.

You can choose from four currency styles:

Currency with negative numbers preceded by a minus sign

Currency with red negative numbers

Currency with negative numbers enclosed in parentheses

Currency with red negative numbers enclosed in parentheses

Excel's preformatted number formats are listed in Table 9.1.

Number Format | Sample Number | What It Does |
---|---|---|

General |
| Default number format. Has no specific number format. With General format, you can type a number with a decimal point, dollar sign, comma, percent sign, date, time, or fraction in a cell. Excel automatically displays the value with the format you entered. |

Number |
| Used for general display of numbers. The default Number format is two decimal places and negative numbers are black preceded by a minus sign. You can display the number of decimal places, whether you want a comma for a thousand separator, and negative numbers in red or black, preceded by a minus sign or enclosed in parentheses. |

Currency |
| Used for general monetary values. The default Currency format is two decimal places, with a dollar sign, and negative numbers are black preceded by a minus sign. You can display the number of decimal places, whether you want a dollar sign, and negative numbers in red or black, preceded by a minus sign or enclosed in parentheses. |

Accounting |
| Used for aligning dollar signs and decimal points in a column. The default Accounting format is two decimal places and a dollar sign. You specify the number of decimal places and whether you want a dollar sign. |

Percentage |
| The default Percentage format is two decimal places and a percent sign. Multiplies the value in a cell by 100 and displays the result with a percent sign. |

Fraction |
| The default Fraction format is up to one digit on either side of the slash. Used to display the number of digits you want on either side of the slash and the fraction type such as halves, quarters, eighths, and so on. |

Scientific |
| The default Scientific format is two decimal places. Used to display numbers in scientific notation. |

Text |
| Used to display both text and numbers in a cell as text. Excel displays the entry exactly as typed. |