Apply Currency and Comma Formats: MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

You can create a budget in MS Excel and track your expenses. To make your budget more readable, you must format it, or change its appearance. To do this, you can click buttons on the Formatting toolbar. If you've used Word or PowerPoint, several of these buttons are already familiar to you.

You can:

Widen columns so that all the text appears. Add dollar signs to help the reader know you are talking about money, and add commas to make it easy to read numbers over 1,000. Make some headings stand out by making them bold or italic, and separate numbers from the total by underlining.

The Formatting toolbar has lots of buttons you can use to change the appearance of your worksheet. Here are some you can easily use on a budget.

  • Add dollar signs. Click the Currency Style button to add dollar signs to the numbers.
  • Add commas. Click the Comma Style button to add commas to numbers where dollar signs aren't needed.

When you format the top row of numbers with dollar signs, the numbers no longer line up correctly with the other numbers in the column. To correct this, use Comma formatting on the other numbers, even if they are less than 1,000.

  • Decrease decimals. Click the Decrease Decimal button two times to eliminate the decimal places. In a budget, you are just estimating dollars, so cents aren't needed.
  • Add underlines. Click the Underline button to add an underline on the cell above the total.
  • Add bold or italic. Click the Bold or Italic button to emphasize headings.
  • Indent text. Click the Increase Indent button to indent subordinate items from the left edge of the cell. (Click the Decrease Indent button to reduce the amount of the indent.)
  • Widen columns. When your text is too long to fit within a cell, it extends into a blank column to the right or appears cut off. To widen the column, place the mouse pointer over the right border of the column heading until it turns into a two-headed arrow. Then you can drag right or left to change the column width, or double-click to make it fit the widest item in the column.

Although the numbers have a different appearance, the contents of the cells have not changed. The formatting of a cell is separate from its contents.

Go ahead and experiment with the effects of using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

** When you type a number with dollar signs and commas, Excel automatically formats the cells for you. You don't have to click the buttons.

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