Number Formatting in Excel

I was in Shannon’s office, sitting in her visitor’s chair across from her desk. She had requested a one-on-one Excel training session and I was waiting for her to finish up whatever she was working on currently.

“I just need to get these last few numbers entered into our department budget,” she announced as I waited.

“No worries, I will just sit here and watch you work,” I said half-jokingly.

As I sat there her hand movement caught my attention. The index finger of her left hand was tracking the information on the paper in front of her. Her right hand was flying over the 10-key on the keyboard. I also noticed her double tap on the zero key. I realized for every number, she manually entered .00 or if there was a needed comma, she was manually entering the comma.

“Shannon, I think I know the first thing I want to cover in our training session,” I said.

Here is what we covered:

Don’t put those commas in yourself.

Number formatting is used to change the appearance of a number or value in a cell. Formatting numbers does not change the actual number that you enter, just the way it appears in the spreadsheet.

Commonly used number formats include:
percent symbols ( % ),
commas ( , ),
decimal places, and dollar signs( $ )

Number formatting can be applied to a single cell, entire columns or rows, a select range of cells, or the whole worksheet.

The default format for cells containing a value is the General style. This style has no specific format and displays values as plain numbers – no dollar signs, commas etc. Just a plain number.

To change a cell’s format, you can use one of the buttons on the Ribbon, such as comma, percent or currency which apply preset styles to the selected cells.

Another option is to click the drop down arrow next to General on the Ribbon. This will give you additional formatting options.

After Shannon applied the Currency style to her columns, all she had to do was enter the number. The dollar sign and .00 were automatically added.

Currency Style and Accounting Style – What’s the difference?

They do look similar to each other.

The Accounting style aligns the dollar sign at the left edge of the cell and displays a dash for zero values.
The Currency style places the dollar sign right next to the number.

Note: The Currency format can display negative numbers with a minus sign, in red, with parentheses, or in red with parentheses.

The Accounting format displays negative numbers in parentheses.

You can also watch the video on my YouTube channel: Number Formatting in Excel

 

Navigate a Word Document with Shift + F5

Microsoft Word has some nice shortcuts that are not well known. One of those is the Shift + F5 shortcut.

Use this to cycle between your most recent edits. With a large document, Shift+F5 is handy to see what you have edited most recently. And, you can use it when you first open a document to take you to your most recent edit.

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If you are on a laptop, you may need to use your function key along with the F5 key.

Shift + Fn + F5

 

Charting Progress Toward a Goal in Excel

Charts help bridge the gap between our spreadsheet data and the real world. I don’t remember where I first read that, it was years ago. But it is something I always tell my students. It is so true. At a glance, which is easier to understand?

This spreadsheet data?

Spreadsheet data showing how much money has been raised each month

Or this chart?

Thermometer style chart showing how much money has been raised for an event

A thermometer chart shows you how much of a goal has been achieved. Such as how much money has been raised for an event.

Creating a thermometer type chart is one of the best visuals to present your data in an understandable way.

This type of chart is for a single point target and it is easy to create.

Watch my YouTube video here: Charting Progress Towards Goal – Video

Download instructions here: Charting progress toward a goal

Numbering the Rows in Your Word Tables

Have you ever created a table and you need to add numbering to the first column? Ever done it manually? Ouch. There is actually a way to do this quickly. Simply select the column and click on the Numbering button from the Home tab. I know!!

alt=""The same thing works if you select a row and want to have numbering across your columns

Watch the video on YouTube: Numbering the rows in your Word Tables

Expect and Except the Challenge – No Excuses

Word excuses coming out of computer screen

“You don’t understand, I haven’t used a computer before.”

“I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the last 10 years.”

“My job didn’t require the use of a computer.”

“I didn’t grow up around computers.”

I teach a class, Intro to PC Applications, at a local community college. This class covers the Microsoft applications – Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint – applications that are in great demand in today’s workforce. This is a required class for several of the degree paths and many of the certificates. There are no prerequisites for this course, so I get some incredibly full classes. My students ages range from 16 – 65+, I have high school students to adults in career transitions.

Every semester, I get at least a couple students who are brand new to using a computer. Some can barely use a mouse, others have only used a computer for email or just web browsing. Maybe they have used MS Word at its most basic level.

We start the semester learning MS Word. But not only are the students learning Word, but they must also learn to navigate the Learning Management System (LMS) and the separate online platform for many of their assignments. Additionally, they need to have some basic navigation skills on the computer.

The students new to computers? They struggle.

These students have to put forth a little more time and effort. I do my best to provide additional instruction before, after and during class. I provide video instructions and website resources. But being a part-time instructor, my time is limited.

It’s not long before I start hearing the excuses. I hear so many variations.

“This class is hard.”

“I don’t have time for the extra stuff.”

I get it. For most of these students with little or no past computer experience, this is also their first college course, or one of the first. There are a lot of new things going on at once. And in 15 weeks, for a total of 3 hours a week (class time), they are going at an unfamiliar pace.

I struggle with how to best meet the needs of these few students, when I have 20 others in the same class. The school does provide free tutoring and I encourage them to take advantage of the service.

I’m writing this post to let those students know that, while it can be a great struggle, there is hope.

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