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Working With Number Formats

What is Number Formatting

When working with numbers in a spreadsheet, you can format those numbers to appear in many different ways. This is known as number formatting.

For example, the number 1,000 can be displayed in various ways as shown below.

Changing the Number Format in Excel

To change the number formatting in Excel, right-click on the cell you wish to change and select format cells.


Under the Number tab in the Format Cells dialog box, you can select from the many number format categories.


Once you select a format category, you have further options to adjust the formatting.


You can also create your own custom formatting by selecting the Custom format category.

Changing the Number Format in Google Sheets

To change the number formatting in Google Sheets, select the cell(s) you wish to format and then select the Format tab.


Select Number and then choose the number formatting you want to apply.


You can also build your own custom number format by selecting:

  • Custom currency
  • Custom date and time
  • Custom number format


Why is Number Formatting Useful

Number formatting is useful because it allows you to display data in the most meaningful way possible depending on the intent of your spreadsheet.

For example, if you want to display percentages, it makes much more sense to display the numbers with a percentage sign rather than simply as decimals.


Another great example is displaying phone numbers. It is much easier to read a phone number as (123) 456-7899 instead of 1234567899.


Number formatting makes your spreadsheets both easier to read and clear and professional overall.

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