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Formatting Numbers with the General Format in Excel


Have you ever typed a number in a cell, and the number appeared as a date? To Excel, dates are numbers. Luckily, it’s easy to fix by selecting the desired cells and choosing the correct format from the Home tab on the Ribbon or from the Format Cells dialog box.

Notice in the example below that cells cells B2 through F2 are formatted as dates. You can verify the formatting of a cell by clicking the cell and looking at the Number Format box in the Number group on the Home tab in Excel. In the example, find the word Date in the Number Format box.

Cells B2 through F2 formatted with the Date format in Excel

To change the format of the numbers (yes, dates are numbers to Excel), select cells B2 through F2; click the down arrow in the Number Format box and choose the desired format. To choose a number without any special formatting (no dollar sign or decimal places, for example), choose General as shown in the example below.

Choosing General Number Format in Excel

After formatting the numbers with the General format, your numbers will look like this:

Numbers formatted with the General format in Excel

Notice that the newly formatted numbers in cells B2 through F2 are right-aligned in each cell. Right alignment is the default format for numbers. Numbers formatted with the General format have no decimal places, commas, or dollar sign.

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From Formatting Numbers with the General Format in Excel page.

Applies to Excel/PowerPoint 2007 and 2010