Chapter 7: The Basics of Spreadsheets: Numbers, Labels, and Formulas 131 Formatting Numbers and Labels When you first create a spreadsheet, numbers and labels appear as plain text. Plain labels might look boring, but plain numbers (such as 8495 or 0.39) can be difficult to read and understand if the numbers are supposed to represent currency amounts ($8,495) or percentages (39%). To make labels visually interesting and numbers appear more descriptive of what they actually represent, you need to format your data after you type it into a spreadsheet. You can format a cell or range of cells after you’ve already typed in data or before you type in any data. If you format cells before typing any data, any data you type in will appear in your chosen format. Formatting numbers To format the appearance of numbers, follow these steps: 1. Select one or more cells using the mouse or keyboard. To select multiple cells, drag the mouse or hold the Shift key while pressing the arrow keys. 2. Click the Home tab. 3. Click the Number Format list box in the Number group. A pull-down menu appears, as shown in Figure 7-3. Figure 7-3: The Number Format list box lists the different ways you can format the appearance of numbers.
132 Part III: Playing the Numbers with Excel The Number group also displays three icons that let you format numbers as Currency, Percentage, or with Commas in one click, as shown in Figure 7-4. If you click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Accounting Number Format icon, you can choose different currency symbols to use such as $, £, or €. Figure 7-4: The different ways you can format money. 4. Click a number format style, such as Percentage or Scientific. Excel displays your numbers in your chosen format. Displaying negative numbers Because many people use spreadsheets for business, they often want negative numbers to appear highlighted so they can see them easier. Excel can display negative numbers in parentheses (–23) or in red so you can’t miss them. To define how negative numbers appear in your spreadsheet, follow these steps: 1. Select the cell or range of cells that you want to modify. 2. Click the Home tab. 3. Click the Format icon in the Cells group. A pop-up menu appears, as shown in Figure 7-5. 4. Choose Cells. The Format Cells dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 7-6. 5. Choose Currency or Number from the Category list. You can choose how to format negative numbers only if you format your numbers using the Currency or Number category.