By applying different number formats, you can change the appearance of numbers without changing the number behind the appearance. A number format does not affect the actual cell value that Microsoft Excel uses to perform calculations. The actual value is displayed in the formula bar (formula bar: A bar at the top of the Excel window that you use to enter or edit values or formulas in cells or charts. Displays the constant value or formula stored in the active cell.).
The following is a summary of the number formats that are available on the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box (Format menu, Cells command). For information about how to display numbers in these formats, click the titles of the corresponding topics in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.
||This is the default number format that Excel applies when you type a number. For the most part, numbers that are formatted with the General format are displayed just the way you type them. However, if the cell is not wide enough to show the entire number, the General format rounds the numbers with decimals. The General number format also uses scientific (exponential) notation for large numbers (12 or more digits).
||This format is used for the general display of numbers. You can specify the number of decimal places that you want to use, whether you want to use a thousands separator, and how you want to display negative numbers.
||This format is used for general monetary values and displays the default currency symbol with numbers. You can specify the number of decimal places that you want to use, whether you want to use a thousands separator, and how you want to display negative numbers.
||This format is also used for monetary values, but it aligns the currency symbols and decimal points of numbers in a column.
||This format displays date and time serial numbers as date values, according to the type and locale (location) that you specify. Except for items that have an asterisk (*) in the Type list (Number tab, Format Cells dialog box), date formats that you apply do not switch date orders with the operating system.
||This format displays date and time serial numbers as time values, according to the type and locale (location) that you specify. Except for items that have an asterisk (*) in the Type list (Number tab, Format Cells dialog box), time formats that you apply do not switch time orders with the operating system.
||This format multiplies the cell value by 100 and displays the result with a percent symbol. You can specify the number of decimal places that you want to use.
||This format display a number as a fraction, according to the type of fraction that you specify.
||This format displays a number in exponential notation, replacing part of the number with E+n, where E (which stands for Exponent) multiplies the preceding number by 10 to the nth power. For example, a 2-decimal Scientific format displays 12345678901 as 1.23E+10, which is 1.23 times 10 to the 10th power. You can specify the number of decimal places that you want to use.
||This format treats the content of a cell as text and displays the content exactly as you type it, even when numbers are typed.
||This format displays a number as a postal code (ZIP Code), phone number, or Social Security number.
||This format allows you to modify a copy of an existing number format code. This creates a custom number format that is added to the list of number format codes. You can add between 200 and 250 custom number formats, depending on the language version of Excel that you have installed.