Excel 2019 Formatting: Numbers and Labels

By Wallace Wang

When you first create an Excel sheet, numbers and labels appear as plain text. Plain labels may look boring in Excel, but plain numbers (such as 8495 or 0.39) can be difficult to read and understand if the numbers are supposed to represent currency amounts ($8,495) or percentages (39%).

To make labels visually interesting and numbers appear more descriptive of what they represent, you need to format your data after you type it in a spreadsheet.

In Excel, you can format a cell or range of cells after you’ve already typed in data or before you type in any data. If you format cells before typing any data, any data you type in that cell will appear in your chosen format.

Formatting numbers in Excel 2019

To format the appearance of numbers in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Select one or more cells by using the mouse or keyboard.

    To select multiple cells, drag the mouse or hold the Shift key while pressing the arrow keys.

  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click the Number Format list box in the Number group.

    A pull-down menu appears.

    Number format list box Excel 2019
    The Number Format list box lists the different ways you can format the appearance of numbers.

    The Number group also displays three icons that let you format numbers as currency, percentage, or with commas in one click. If you click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Accounting Number Format icon, you can choose different currency symbols to use.

    formatting money Excel 2019
    The different ways you can format money.
  4. Click a number format style, such as Percentage or Scientific.

 

Excel displays your numbers in your chosen format.

Displaying negative numbers in Excel 2019

Because many people use spreadsheets for business, they often want negative numbers to appear highlighted so they can see them more easily. Excel can display negative numbers in parentheses (–23) or in red so you can’t miss them.

To define how negative numbers appear in your spreadsheet, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells that you want to modify.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click the Format icon in the Cells group.

    A menu appears.

    Format icon Excel 2019
    The Format icon lets you format the appearance of rows, columns, or individual cells.
  4. Choose Format Cells.

    The Format Cells dialog box appears.

    Format Cells dialog box Excel 2019
    The Format Cells dialog box lets you customize the appearance of your numbers.
  5. In the Category list, choose Currency or Number.

    You can choose how to format negative numbers only if you format your numbers by using the Currency or Number category.

  6. Click a negative number format and then click OK.

    If any of your numbers changes to negative in the cell or cells you select in Step 1, Excel automatically displays those negative numbers in the negative number format you choose.

Formatting decimal numbers in Excel 2019

If you format cells to display numbers with decimal places, such as 23.09 or 23.09185, you can modify how many decimal places appear. To define the number of decimal places, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells that contain the numbers you want to format.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click in the Number Format list box and choose a format that displays decimal places, such as Number or Percentage.

    Excel formats the numbers in your chosen cells.

In the Number group on the Home tab, you can click the Increase Decimal icon (increases the number of decimal places displayed) or Decrease Decimal icon (decreases the number of decimal places displayed.

Formatting cells in Excel 2019

To make your data look prettier, Excel can format the appearance of cells to change the font, background color, text color, or font size.

Excel provides two ways to format cells: You can use Excel’s built-in formatting styles, or you can apply different types of formatting individually. Some of the individual formatting styles you can choose follow:

  • Font and font size
  • Text styles (underlining, italic, and bold)
  • Text and background color
  • Borders
  • Alignment
  • Text wrapping and orientation

Formatting cells with built-in styles in Excel 2019

Excel provides a variety of predesigned formatting styles that you can apply to one or more cells. To format cells with a built-in style, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells that you want to format with a built-in style.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click the Cell Styles icon in the Styles group.

    A pull-down menu appears listing all the different styles you can choose.

    Cell styles Excel 2019
    The Cell Styles menu offers different ways to format your cells quickly.
  4. Move the mouse pointer over a style.

    Excel displays a live preview of how your selected cells will look with that particular style.

  5. Click the style you want.

    Excel applies your chosen style to the selected cells.

Formatting fonts and text styles in Excel 2019

Different fonts can emphasize parts of your spreadsheet, such as using one font to label columns and rows and another font or font size to display the data. Text styles (bold, underline, and italic) can also emphasize data that appears in the same font or font size.

To change the font, font size, and text style of one or more cells, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells whose font or font size you want to change.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click the Font list box.

    A pull-down menu of different fonts appears.

  4. Click the font you want to use.
  5. To change the font size, choose one of the following methods:
    • Click the Font Size list box and then choose a font size, such as 12 or 16.
    • Click the Font Size list box and type a value such as 7 or 15.
    • Click the Increase Font Size or Decrease Font Size icon until your data appears in the size you want.
  6. Click one or more text style icons (Bold, Italic, Underline).

Formatting with color in Excel 2019

Each cell displays data in a font color and a fill color. The font color defines the color of the numbers and letters that appear inside a cell. (The default font color is black.) The fill color defines the color that fills the background of the cell. (The default fill color is white.)

To change the font and fill colors of cells, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells that you want to color.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click the downward-pointing arrow that appears to the right of the Font Color icon.

    A color palette appears.

    Excel color palette
    You can display data and the background of each cell in a different color.
  4. Click the color you want to use for your text.

    The color you select appears directly on the Font Color icon. The next time you want to apply this same color to a cell, you can click the Font Color icon directly instead of the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Font Color icon.

  5. Click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Fill Color icon.

    A color palette appears.

  6. Click a color to use to fill the background of your cell.

    The color you select appears directly on the Fill Color icon. The next time you want to apply this same color to a cell, you can click the Fill Color icon directly instead of the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Fill Color icon.

Adding borders in Excel 2019

For another way to highlight one or more cells, you can add borders. Borders can surround the entire cell or just the top, bottom, left, or right side of a cell. To add borders to a cell, follow these steps:

  1. Select one or more cells.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the Border icon in the Font group.

    A pull-down menu appears.

    Excel 2019 border menu
    The Border menu lists different ways to place borders around cells.
  4. Click a border style.

    Excel displays your chosen borders around the cells you selected in Step 1.