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A number is not just a number !

Subject : Month-Year : Author/s : Topic : Article Details : Surprised by the title ? Well, consider an Excel sheet which you received from a friend. It shows the number 23.28 in the cell A4. You go to cell B4 and key in the formula +100-A4. You are baffled to see that the computer displays -23177 and not 76.72 that you would expect. Is there something wrong ? You are inquisitive and therefore you go back to A4 to investigate the matter. You press F2 to enter the edit mode and you find that the number is actually 23277. You move out of the edit mode and go to some other cell. The number display again changes to 23.28. Well, appearances are deceptive. The root of the matter is that the cell was formatted to be displaying numbers in thousands. In many situations, we are interested in presenting accounts in thousands or in millions. At times, we use the division and integer and rounding route to create formulae for accomplishing the task. Why do all the pains when there is a simple formatting command available. To try this out, go to a blank cell and type the number 23110. Select Format Cells (either from the format menu or the right-key shortcut menu or by pressing Ctrl+1). Various formatting options are available. We are interested in creating a custom number format. So we shall select custom from the number tab. The right hand side of the screen would now show a menu of options and a box wherein the format code could be entered. Clear all the contents of the top box. In the box provided, we can type a masking template which will not control the value of the cell but the appearance thereof. The table on next page highlights the list of available options in the number format category. Based on the above reference, let us look at some examples of number formats : 1. To view the number in thousands with two decimal places, use the format 0.00, Using this format, 12352450 is displayed as 12352.45. 2. To view the number in millions with two decimal places, use the format 0.00,, Using this format, 12352450 is displayed as 12.35. 3. To view the number in billions with two decimal places, use the format 0.00,,, Using this format, 12352450 is displayed as 0.01. 4. To view the number in lakhs with two decimal places, use the format #\.0#, Using this format, 12352450 is displayed as 123.52. 5. To view the number in crores with one decimal place (cannot view with two decimal places), Computers May 2005 Sunil Gabhawalla A number is not just a number !

use the format #\.#,, Using this format, 12352450 is displayed as 1.2. 6. The last format is the most complex one. Displaying the number in the Indian number format i.e. the commas should show groupings of two and not three. It is tricky and complex formula and has limitations. It works for amounts between 1000 and 99 crores. For those who are adventurous, heres the formula : [>9999999]##\,##\,##\,###;[>99999]##\,##\,###;##\,### Be careful of the commas and the semicolons. I shall not venture into explaining the format but would just say that using this format, 12352450 is displayed as 1,23,52,450. In short, appearances can be deceptive. Look deeper into the format templates to see the real thing. Symbol # Utility Displays the number in the normal fashion. It however will ignore insignificant zeroes. Thus 3.10 will be displayed as 3.1 in the format ##.## Displays the number in the normal fashion. It will not ignore insignificant zeroes. Thus 3.10 will be displayed as 03.10 in the format 00.00 (The ideal format of course would be ##.00 which will display the number as 3.10) Signifies the thousands separator. Thus 42500 in the format #,# will be displayed as 42,500 Interestingly, I am permitted to leave the second part of the format # out. In that case, the computer would assume that I am not interested in seeing the last three digits and would therefore display the number in thousands (#, format will display the number as 43) If I am interested in viewing the number in millions, I need to specify two commas after #. The format will be #,, . [] $ Any other character \ Decimal Separator Enclose condition within the two brackets to display conditional for mats Insert the currency symbol. Of course, the currency symbol can be customised for displaying Indian Rupees Repeated in the same fashion. Thus, if the format is "Total #.00" the cell will display something like this Total 932.00 Follow this character with any of the reserved characters to display that reserved character