How to custom format cell in Excel

In this article, we will learn How to custom format cell in Excel.

What is the Format cell option ?

Custom format option lets you change the format of the number inside the cell. This is required because excel reads date and Time as General numbers. Format cell option allows you to change in any of the given formats.

  • General
  • Number
  • Currency
  • Accounting
  • Date
  • Time
  • Percentage
  • Fraction
  • Scientific
  • Text
  • Special
  • Custom

Under the custom option you can use the type of format required.

You can access the Format cell option in the Home tab to change the format as shown below.

Just drop down from arrow and select from the view option or click the right most red box button as shown in the above image to open More number formats

There are some shortcuts to convert a number into different formats.


Format Shortcut key
General number Ctrl + Shift + ~
Currency format Ctrl Shift $
Percentage format Ctrl Shift %
Scientific format Ctrl + Shift + ^
Date format Ctrl + Shift + #
Time format Ctrl + Shift + @
Custom formats Ctrl + 1


Example :

All of these might be confusing to understand. Let's understand how to use the function using an example. Here we will see how one number can be seen many different formats.

These are some of the format options of the number -2 in different formats.

Now there’s one more thing. Numbers represent so many values in a text as Date, Time and currency. So Sometimes you need to change the format cell type to required field type using Format cell option.

Use the format cell option shown below or Ctrl + 1 shortcut keyboard key that will open a full Format cell dialog box

Changing the format you will get

As you can see from the above snapshot that the number in general representation is converted to date format.

Here are all the observational notes using the custom format option in Excel
Notes :

  1. Use number formatting to convert the value into another format. The value remains the same.
  2. Use percentage format when using percentage rate values in Excel.
  3. Formula starts with ( = ) sign.
  4. Sometimes there exist a curly braces in the start of formula, which is an array formula and called using the Ctrl + Shift + Enter. Do not put curly braces manually.
  5. Text values and characters are always given using quotes or using cell reference
  6. Numerical values can be given directly or using the cell reference.
  7. Array can be given using the array reference or using named ranges.

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