Make Excel worksheets and charts easier to read with custom number formats

Working with lots of zeroes? Mary Ann Richardson says you ought to use fewer naughts by using custom number formats in your Excel documents. Here's how to display your chart numbers in thousands (or other denominations).

Let's say your company made $14,000,000 last year by selling 110,000,000 units. If you show all those zeroes in your Excel worksheets and charts, it would be pretty hard to read. A solution is to display the numbers in thousands (for example, display 14,000,000 as 14,000). To display end-of-year statements results in thousands, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Format | Cell.
  2. Under Category, click Custom.
  3. Enter #,###, in the Type text box.
  4. Click OK.

You can now select your numbers and apply the custom format to display your very large numbers in thousands. The formatting will affect only how the number is displayed—not how it is calculated.

When working with even larger numbers, you may wish to display your figures in millions (for example, display 110,000,000 as 110). You can create a custom format as above, but in step three enter #,###,, in the Type text box to display numbers in millions.

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