June 15


Add dollar signs, percentage signs and decimal places to Excel data

By Sharyn Baines

June 15, 2018


Formatting lets you change the appearance of data to control exactly how Excel will display the data on a worksheet.

An example of formatting is to add dollar signs, percentage signs and decimal places to Excel data.

Understanding number formats

When we apply formatting to a cell we overlay the actual number with a specific look.

Every cell within a workbook has a predefined number format of ‘General’. This means when you type data into the cell (in most instances) it will remain without any specific formatting.

However if you would like the data in a cell to display decimal places, a dollar or percentage sign or, in the case of dates, a particular style of date you will need to apply a number format.


Applying a number format

To apply a format to a cell or range of cells first select the cell(s) and then from the Home tab do one of the following.

  • Use the Accounting, Percentage, Comma, Increase and Decrease Decimal places buttons to quickly apply formatting to the data. Click the Accounting drop-down to apply different currency symbols. Use Comma to apply the Accounting format without the currency symbol. Percentage will format as a percentage with no decimal places.

Excel Number Formats 1

  • Click the drop-down arrow on the Number Format option box. Select the option that best fits your requirements.

Excel Number Formats


GeneralNo specific format.  Leading 0 (zero) and zeros after a decimal will not be displayed.
NumberDisplays leading zeros and applies 2 decimal places.
CurrencyDisplays a dollar sign in front of the number.  Applies 2 decimal places.
AccountingDisplays a dollar sign on the very left of the cell.  Applies 2 decimal places.
Short/Long DateFormats a number as a date.
TextAllows you to enter numbers with leading zeros, e.g. 0842. Great for mobile numbers and post codes.


Note: the Percentage option on the Number Format list formats numbers as a percentage with two decimal places. If you would prefer to format as a percentage without decimal places click the Percent Style button in the Number group.


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Sharyn Baines

About the author

Sharyn is an expert trainer. She became the first certified Microsoft® MOUS Authorised Instructor in New Zealand. She is endorsed by Microsoft® as a qualified Microsoft® Office Specialist and has more than 20 years of experience in the training industry, developing and delivering technology training workshops. Her approach to taking the “techie-speak” out of technology training has placed her as a preferred supplier to many of New Zealand’s leading organisations.

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