Formatting Cells

Help Center Microsoft Excel (XP) Formatting Cells

Formatting Toolbar

The contents of a highlighted cell can be formatted in many ways. Font and cell attributes can be added from shortcut buttons on the formatting bar. If this toolbar is not already visible on the screen, select View > Toolbars > Formatting from the menu bar.

Formatting Toolbar

Format Cells Dialog Box

For a complete list of formatting options, right-click on the highlighted cells and choose Format Cells from the shortcut menu or select Format > Cells from the menu bar.

Format Cells Number
  • Number tab - The data type can be selected from the options on this tab. Select General if the cell contains text and numbers, or a different numerical category if the cell is a number that will be included in functions or formulas.
  • Alignment tab - These options allow you to change the position and alignment of the data within the cell.
  • Font tab - All of the font attributes are displayed in this tab including font face, size, style, and effects.
  • Border and Pattern tabs - These tabs allow you to add borders, shading, and background colors to a cell.

Dates and Times

If you enter the date "January 1, 2003" into a cell on the worksheet, Excel will automatically recognize the text as a date and change the format to "1-Jan-01". To change the date format, select the Number tab from the Format Cells window. Select "Date" from the Category box and choose the format for the date from the Type box. If the field is a time, select "Time" from the Category box and select the type in the right box. Date and time combinations are also listed. Press OK when finished.

Format Cells Time

Styles

The use of styles in Excel allow you to quickly format your worksheet, provide consistency, and create a professional look. Select the Styles drop-down box from the formatting toolbar (it can be added by customizing the toolbar). Excel provides several preset styles:

Excel Styles
Comma - Adds commas to the number and two digits beyond a decimal point. Comma [0] - Comma style that rounds to a whole number. Currency - Formats the number as currency with a dollar sign, commas, and two digits beyond the decimal point. Currency [0] - Currency style that rounds to a whole number. Normal - Reverts any changes to general number format. Percent - Changes the number to a percent and adds a percent sign. Style Dialog Box Create your own styles from the Style Dialog Box. Highlight the cell(s) you want to add a style to. Select Format|Style... from the menu bar. Modify the attributes by clicking the Modify button. Check all the items under Style includes that the style should format. Click Add to preview the formatting changes on the worksheet. Highlight the style you want to apply to the paragraph and click Apply. Create a New Style Select the cell on the worksheet containing the formatting you would like to set as a new style. Click the Style box on the Formatting toolbar so the style name is highlighted. Delete the text in the Style box and type the name of the new style. Press ENTER when finished.

Format Painter Format Painter

A handy feature on the standard toolbar for formatting text is the Format Painter. If you have formatted a cell with a certain font style, date format, border, and other formatting options, and you want to format another cell or group of cells the same way, place the cursor within the cell containing the formatting you want to copy. Click the Format Painter button in the standard toolbar (notice that your pointer now has a paintbrush beside it). Highlight the cells you want to add the same formatting to.

To copy the formatting to many groups of cells, double-click the Format Painter button. The format painter remains active until you press the key to turn it off.

AutoFormat

Excel has many preset table formatting options. Add these styles by following these steps:

  • Select the cells that will be formatted.
    Highlight Cells
  • Select Format > AutoFormat from the menu bar.
  • In the AutoFormat dialog box, select the format you want to apply to the table by clicking on it with the mouse. Use the scroll bar to view all of the formats available.
    Autoformat Dialog
  • Click the Options... button to select the elements that the formatting will apply to.
  • Click OK when finished.
    Autoformat Finish
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