﻿ ﻿Using Custom Number Formats - Appendixes - Excel 2016 Formulas (2016)

# Excel 2016 Formulas (2016)

### Appendix B Using Custom Number Formats

Although Excel provides a good variety of built-in number formats, you may find that none of these suits your needs. This appendix describes how to create custom number formats and provides many examples.

By default, all cells use the General number format. This is basically a “what you type is what you get” format. If the cell is not wide enough to show the entire number, the General format rounds numbers with decimals and uses scientific notation for large numbers. In many cases, you may want to format a cell with something other than the General number format.

The key thing to remember about number formatting is that it affects only how a value is displayed. The actual number remains intact, and any formulas that use a formatted number use the actual number.

Note

An exception to this rule occurs if you specify the Precision as Displayed option on the Advanced tab of the Excel Options dialog box. If that option is in effect, formulas will use the values that are actually displayed in the cells as a result of a number format applied to the cells. In general, using this option is not a good idea because it changes the underlying values in your worksheet.

One more thing to keep in mind: if you use Excel’s Find and Replace dialog box (choose Home ➜ Editing ➜ Find & Select ➜ Find), characters that are displayed are a result of number formatting (for example, a currency symbol) and are not searchable by default. To locate information based on formatting, use the Search in Value option in the Find and Replace dialog box.

Automatic number formatting

Excel is smart enough to perform some formatting for you automatically. For example, if you enter 12.3% into a cell, Excel knows that you want to use a percentage format and applies it automatically. If you use commas to separate thousands (such as 123,456), Excel applies comma formatting for you. And if you precede your value with a currency symbol, Excel formats the cell for currency.

Note

You have an option when it comes to entering values into cells formatted as a percentage. Access the Excel Options dialog box and click the Advanced tab. If the check box labeled Enable Automatic Percent Entry is checked (the default setting), you can simply enter a normal value into a cell formatted to display as a percent (for example, enter 12.5 for 12.5%). If this check box isn’t selected, you must enter the value as a decimal (for example, .125 for 12.5%).

Excel automatically applies a built-in number format to a cell based on the following criteria:

§ If a number contains a slash (/), it may be converted to a date format or a fraction format.

§ If a number contains a hyphen (-), it may be converted to a date format.

§ If a number contains a colon (:), or is followed by a space and the letter A or P (uppercase or lowercase), it may be converted to a time format.

§ If a number contains the letter E (uppercase or lowercase), it may be converted to scientific notation (also known as exponential format). If the number doesn’t fit into the column width, it may also be converted to this format.

Tip

Automatic number formatting can be very frustrating. For example, if you enter a part number 10-12 into a cell, Excel will convert it to a date. Even worse, there is no way to convert it back to your original entry! To avoid automatic number formatting when you enter a value, pre-format the data input range with the desired number format or precede your entry with an apostrophe. (The apostrophe makes the entry text, so number formatting is not applied to the cell.)

Formatting numbers by using the Ribbon

The Number group on the Home tab of the Ribbon contains several controls that enable you to apply common number formats quickly. The Number Format drop-down control gives you quick access to 11 common number formats. In addition, the Number group contains some buttons. When you click one of these buttons, the selected cells take on the specified number format. Table B.1 summarizes the formats that these buttons perform in the U.S. English version of Excel.

Table B.1 Number-Formatting Buttons on the Ribbon

 Button Name Formatting Applied Accounting Number Format Adds a dollar sign to the left, separates thousands with a comma, and displays the value with two digits to the right of the decimal point. This is a drop-down control, so you can select other common currency symbols. Percent Style Displays the value as a percentage, with no decimal places. This button applies a style to the cell. Comma Style Separates thousands with a comma and displays the value with two digits to the right of the decimal place. This button applies a style to the cell. Increase Decimal Increases the number of digits to the right of the decimal point by one. Decrease Decimal Decreases the number of digits to the right of the decimal point by one.

Note

Some of these buttons actually apply predefined styles to the selected cells. Access Excel’s styles by using the Style gallery, from the Styles group of the Home tab. You can modify the styles by right-clicking the style name and choosing Modify from the shortcut menu.

Using shortcut keys to format numbers

Another way to apply number formatting is to use shortcut keys. Table B.2 summarizes the shortcut key combinations that you can use to apply common number formatting to the selected cells or range. Notice that these are the shifted versions of the number keys along the top of a typical keyboard.

Table B.2 Number-Formatting Keyboard Shortcuts

 Key Combination Formatting Applied Ctrl+Shift+~ General number format (that is, unformatted values). Ctrl+Shift+! Two decimal places, thousands separator, and a hyphen for negative values. Ctrl+Shift+@ Time format with the hour, minute, and AM or PM. Ctrl+Shift+# Date format with the day, month, and year. Ctrl+Shift+\$ Currency format with two decimal places. (Negative numbers appear in parentheses.) Ctrl+Shift+% Percentage format with no decimal places. Ctrl+Shift+^ Scientific notation number format with two decimal places.

Using the format cells dialog box to format numbers

For maximum control of number formatting, use the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box. To access this dialog box

§ Click the dialog box selector in the Home ➜ Number group.

§ Choose Home ➜ Number ➜ Number Format ➜ More Number Formats.

§ Press Ctrl+1.

The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box contains 12 categories of number formats from which to choose. When you select a category from the list box, the right side of the dialog box changes to display appropriate options.

Following is a list of the number-format categories along with some general comments:

§ General: The default format; it displays numbers as integers, as decimals, or in scientific notation if the value is too wide to fit into the cell.

§ Number: Enables you to specify the number of decimal places, whether to use your system thousands separator (for example, a comma) to separate thousands, and how to display negative numbers.

§ Currency: Enables you to specify the number of decimal places, to choose a currency symbol, and to display negative numbers. This format always uses the system thousands separator symbol (for example, a comma) to separate thousands.

§ Accounting: Differs from the Currency format in that the currency symbols always line up vertically, regardless of the number of digits displayed in the value.

§ Date: Enables you to choose from a variety of date formats and select the locale for your date formats.

§ Time: Enables you to choose from a number of time formats and select the locale for your time formats.

§ Percentage: Enables you to choose the number of decimal places; always displays a percent sign.

§ Fraction: Enables you to choose from among nine fraction formats.

§ Scientific: Displays numbers in exponential notation (with an E): 2.00E+05 = 200,000. You can choose the number of decimal places to display to the left of E.

§ Text: When applied to a value, causes Excel to treat the value as text (even if it looks like a value). This feature is useful for such items as numerical part numbers and credit card numbers.

§ Special: Contains additional number formats. The list varies, depending on the locale you choose. For the English (United States) locale, the formatting options are Zip Code, Zip Code +4, Phone Number, and Social Security Number.

§ Custom: Enables you to define custom number formats not included in any of the other categories.

Note

If the cell displays a series of hash marks after you apply a number format (such as #########), it usually means that the column isn’t wide enough to display the value with the number format that you selected. Either make the column wider (by dragging the right border of the column header) or change the number format. A series of hash marks also can mean that the cell contains an invalid date or time.

Creating a Custom Number Format

The Custom category on the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box (see Figure B.1) enables you to create number formats not included in any of the other categories. Excel gives you a great deal of flexibility in creating custom number formats. When you create a custom number format, it can be used to format any cells in the workbook. You can create as many custom number formats as you need.

Figure B.1 The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

Tip

Custom number formats are stored with the workbook in which they are defined. To make the custom format available in a different workbook, you can just copy a cell that uses the custom format to the other workbook.

You construct a number format by specifying a series of codes as a number format string. You enter this code sequence in the Type field after you select the Custom category on the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box. Here’s an example of a simple number format code:

0.000

This code consists of placeholders and a decimal point; it tells Excel to display the value with three digits to the right of the decimal place. Here’s another example:

00000

This custom number format has five placeholders and displays the value with five digits (no decimal point). This format is good to use when the cell holds a five-digit ZIP code. (In fact, this is the code actually used by the Zip Code format in the Special category.) When you format the cell with this number format and then enter a ZIP code, such as 06604 (Bridgeport, CT), the value is displayed with the leading zero. If you enter this number into a cell with the General number format, it displays 6604 (no leading zero).

Scroll through the list of number formats in the Custom category of the Format Cells dialog box to see many more examples. In many cases, you can use one of these codes as a starting point, and you’ll need to customize it only slightly.

On the Web

This book’s website contains a workbook with many custom number format examples. The file is named number formats.xlsx.

Parts of a number format string

A custom format string can have up to four sections, which enables you to specify different format codes for positive numbers, negative numbers, zero values, and text. You do so by separating the codes with a semicolon. The codes are arranged in the following order:

Positive format; Negative format; Zero format; Text format

If you don’t use all four sections of a format string, Excel interprets the format string as follows:

§ If you use only one section: The format string applies to all numeric types of entries.

§ If you use two sections: The first section applies to positive values and zeros, and the second section applies to negative values.

§ If you use three sections: The first section applies to positive values, the second section applies to negative values, and the third section applies to zeros.

§ If you use all four sections: The last section applies to text stored in the cell.

The following is an example of a custom number format that specifies a different format for each of these types:

[Green]General;[Red]General;[Black]General;[Blue]General

This custom number format example takes advantage of the fact that colors have special codes. A cell formatted with this custom number format displays its contents in a different color, depending on the value. When a cell is formatted with this custom number format, a positive number is green, a negative number is red, a zero is black, and text is blue.

Cross-Ref

If you want to apply cell formatting automatically (such as text or background color) based on the cell’s contents, a much better solution is to use Excel’s Conditional Formatting feature (covered in Chapter 19, “Conditional Formatting”).

Pre-formatting cells

Usually, you’ll apply number formats to cells that already contain values. You also can format cells with a specific number format before you make an entry. Then, when you enter information, it takes on the format that you specified. You can pre-format specific cells, entire rows or columns, or even the entire worksheet.

Rather than pre-format an entire worksheet, however, you can change the number format for the Normal style. (Unless you specify otherwise, all cells use the Normal style.) Change the Normal style by displaying the Style gallery (choose Home ➜ Styles). Right-click the Normal style icon and then choose Modify to display the Style dialog box. In the Style dialog box, click the Format button and then choose the new number format that you want to use for the Normal style.

Custom number format codes

Table B.3 lists the formatting codes available for custom formats, along with brief descriptions.

Table B.3 Codes Used to Create Custom Number Formats

 Code Comments General Displays the number in General format. # Digit placeholder. Displays only significant digits and does not display insignificant zeros. 0 (zero) Digit placeholder. Displays insignificant zeros if a number has fewer digits than there are zeros in the format. ? Digit placeholder. Adds spaces for insignificant zeros on either side of the decimal point so that decimal points align when formatted with a fixed-width font. You can also use ? for fractions that have varying numbers of digits. . Decimal point. % Percentage. , Thousands separator. E- E+ e- e+ Scientific notation. \$ - + / ( ) : space Displays this character. \ Displays the next character in the format. * Repeats the next character, to fill the column width. _ (underscore) Leaves a space equal to the width of the next character. “text” Displays the text inside the double quotation marks. @ Text placeholder. [color] Displays the characters in the color specified. Can be any of the following text strings (not case sensitive): Black, Blue, Cyan, Green, Magenta, Red, White, or Yellow. [Color n] Displays the corresponding color in the color palette, where n is a number from 0 to 56. [condition value] Enables you to set your own criterion for each section of a number format.

Table B.4 lists the codes used to create custom formats for dates and times.

Table B.4 Codes Used in Creating Custom Formats for Dates and Times

Where did those number formats come from?

Excel may create custom number formats without you realizing it. When you use the Increase Decimal or Decrease Decimal button on the Home ➜ Number group of the Ribbon (or in the Mini Toolbar), Excel creates new custom number formats, which appear on the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box. For example, if you click the Increase Decimal button five times, the following custom number formats are created:

0.0

0.000

0.0000

0.000000

A format string for two decimal places is not created because that format string is built in.

Custom Number Format Examples

The remainder of this appendix consists of useful examples of custom number formats. You can use most of these format codes as-is. Others may require slight modification to meet your needs.

Scaling values

You can use a custom number format to scale a number. For example, if you work with very large numbers, you may want to display the numbers in thousands (that is, displaying 1,000,000 as 1,000). The actual number, of course, will be used in calculations that involve that cell. The formatting affects only how it displays.

Displaying values in thousands

The following format string displays values without the last three digits to the left of the decimal place, and no decimal places. In other words, the value appears as if it’s divided by 1,000 and rounded to no decimal places.

#,###,

A variation of this format string follows. A value with this number format appears as if it’s divided by 1,000 and rounded to two decimal places.

#,###.00,

Table B.5 shows examples of these number formats.

Table B.5 Examples of Displaying Values in Thousands

 Value Number Format Display 123456 #,###, 123 1234565 #,###, 1,235 -323434 #,###, -323 123123.123 #,###, 123 499 #,###, (blank) 500 #,###, 1 123456 #,###.00, 123.46 1234565 #,###.00, 1,234.57 -323434 #,###.00, -323.43 123123.123 #,###.00, 123.12 499 #,###.00, .50 500 #,###.00, .50

Displaying values in hundreds

The following format string displays values in hundreds, with two decimal places. A value with this number format appears as if it’s divided by 100 and rounded to two decimal places.

0"."00

Table B.6 shows examples of these number formats.

Table B.6 Examples of Displaying Values in Hundreds

 Value Number Format Display 546 0"."00 5.46 100 0"."00 1.00 9890 0"."00 98.90 500 0"."00 5.00 -500 0"."00 -5.00 0 0"."00 0.00

Displaying values in millions

The following format string displays values in millions, with no decimal places. A value with this number appears as if it’s divided by 1,000,000 and rounded to no decimal places.

#,###,,

A variation of this format string follows. A value with this number appears as if it’s divided by 1,000,000 and rounded to two decimal places.

#,###.00,,

Here’s another variation. This format string adds the letter M to the end of the value.

#,###,,"M"

The following format string is a bit more complex. It adds the letter M to the end of the value — and also displays negative values in parentheses as well as displaying zeros.

#,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_)

Table B.7 shows examples of these format strings.

Table B.7 Examples of Displaying Values in Millions

 Value Number Format Display 123456789 #,###,, 123 1.23457E+11 #,###,, 123,457 1000000 #,###,, 1 5000000 #,###,, 5 -5000000 #,###,, -5 0 #,###,, (blank) 123456789 #,###.00,, 123.46 1.23457E+11 #,###.00,, 123,457.00 1000000 #,###.00,, 1.00 5000000 #,###.00,, 5.00 -5000000 #,###.00,, -5.00 0 #,###.00,, .00 123456789 #,###,,"M" 123M 1.23457E+11 #,###,,"M" 123,457M 1000000 #,###,,"M" 1M 5000000 #,###,,"M" 5M -5000000 #,###,,"M" -5M 0 #,###,,"M" M 123456789 #,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_) 123.5M 1.23457E+11 #,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_) 123,456.8M 1000000 #,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_) 1.0M 5000000 #,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_) 5.0M -5000000 #,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_) (5.0M) 0 #,###.0,,"M"_);(#,###.0,,"M)";0.0"M"_) 0.0M

Appending zeros to a value

The following format string displays a value with three additional zeros and no decimal places. A value with this number format appears as if it’s rounded to no decimal places and then multiplied by 1,000.

#",000"

Examples of this format string, plus a variation that adds six zeros, are shown in Table B.8.

Table B.8 Examples of Displaying a Value with Extra Zeros

 Value Number Format Display 1 #",000" 1,000 1.5 #",000" 2,000 43 #",000" 43,000 -54 #",000" -54,000 5.5 #",000" 6,000 0.5 #",000,000" 1,000,000 0 #",000,000" ,000,000 1 #",000,000" 1,000,000 1.5 #",000,000" 2,000,000 43 #",000,000" 43,000,000 -54 #",000,000" -54,000,000 5.5 #",000,000" 6,000,000 0.5 #",000,000" 1,000,000

Hiding zeros

In the following format string, the third element of the string is empty, which causes zero-value cells to display as blank:

General;-General;

This format string uses the General format for positive and negative values. You can, of course, substitute any other format codes for the positive and negative parts of the format string.

To display leading zeros, create a custom number format that uses the 0 character. For example, if you want all numbers to display with ten digits, use the number format string that follows. Values with fewer than ten digits will display with leading zeros.

0000000000

You also can force all numbers to display with a fixed number of leading zeros. The format string that follows, for example, prepends three zeros to each number:

"000"#

Displaying fractions

Excel supports quite a few built-in fraction number formats. (Select the Fraction category from the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.) For example, to display the value .125 as a fraction with 8 as the denominator, select As Eighths (4/8) from the Type list.

You can use a custom format string to create other fractional formats. For example, the following format string displays a value in 50ths:

# ??/50

To display the fraction reduced to its lowest terms, use a question mark after the slash symbol. For example, the value 0.125 can be expressed as 2/16, and 2/16 can be reduced to 1/8. Here’s an example of a number format that displays the value as a fraction reduced to its simplest terms:

# ?/?

If you omit the leading hash mark, the value displays without a leading value. For example, the value 2.5 would display as 5/2 using this number format code:

?/?

The following format string displays a value in terms of fractional dollars. For example, the value 154.87 displays as 154 and 87/100 Dollars.

0 "and "??/100 "Dollars"

The following example displays the value in 16ths, with an appended double quotation mark. This format string is useful when you deal with inches (for example, 2/16).

# ??/16\"

Displaying N/A for text

The following number format string uses General formatting for all cell entries except text. Text entries appear as N/A.

0.0;0.0;0.0;"N/A"

You can, of course, modify the format string to display specific formats for values. The following variation displays values with one decimal place:

0.0;0.0;0.0;"N/A"

Displaying text in quotes

The following format string displays numbers normally but surrounds text with double quotation marks:

General;General;General;\"@\"

Repeating a cell entry

The following number format is perhaps best suited as an April Fool’s gag played on an office mate. It displays the contents of the cell three times. For example, if the cell contains the text Budget, the cell displays Budget Budget Budget. If the cell contains the number 12, it displays as 12 12 12.

@ @ @

Testing custom number formats

When you create a custom number format, don’t overlook the Sample box in the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box. This box displays the value in the active cell using the format string in the Type box.

It’s a good idea to test your custom number formats by using the following data: a positive value, a negative value, a zero value, and text. Often, creating a custom number format takes several attempts. Each time you edit a format string, it is added to the list. When you finally get the correct format string, access the Format Cells dialog box one more time and delete your previous attempts.

Displaying a negative sign on the right

The following format string displays negative values with the negative sign to the right of the number. Positive values have an additional space on the right, so both positive and negative numbers align properly on the right.

0.00_-;0.00-

To make the negative numbers more prominent, you can add a color code to the negative part of the number format string:

0.00_-;[Red]0.00-

Conditional number formatting

Conditional formatting refers to formatting that is applied based on the contents of a cell. Excel’s Conditional Formatting feature provides the most efficient way to perform conditional formatting of numbers, but you also can use custom number formats.

Note

A conditional number formatting string is limited to three conditions: two of them are explicit, and the third one is implied (that is, everything else). The conditions are enclosed in square brackets and must be simple numeric comparisons.

The following format string displays different text (no value), depending on the value in the cell. This format string essentially separates the numbers into three groups: less than or equal to 4, greater than or equal to 8, and other.

[<=4]"Low"* 0;[>=8]"High"* 0;"Medium"* 0

The following number format is useful for telephone numbers. Values greater than 9999999 (that is, numbers with area codes) are displayed as (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Other values (numbers without area codes) are displayed as xxx-xxxx.

[>9999999](000) 000-0000;000-0000

For U.S. ZIP codes, you might want to use the format string that follows. This displays ZIP codes using five digits. If the number is greater than 99999, it uses the ZIP-plus-four format (xxxxx-xxxx).

[>99999]00000-0000;00000

Coloring values

Custom number format strings can display the cell contents in various colors. The following format string, for example, displays positive numbers in red, negative numbers in green, zero values in black, and text in blue:

[Red]General;[Green]-General;[Black]General;[Blue]General

Following is another example of a format string that uses colors. Positive values display normally; negative numbers and text cause Error! to display in red.

General;[Red]"Error!";0;[Red]"Error!"

Using the following format string, values that are less than 2 display in red. Values greater than 4 display in green. Everything else (text, or values between 2 and 4) displays in black.

[Red][<2]General;[Green][>4]General;[Black]General

As seen in the preceding examples, Excel recognizes color names such as [Red] and [Blue]. It also can use other colors from the color palette, indexed by a number. The following format string, for example, displays the cell contents using the 16th color in the color palette:

[Color16]General

Note

Excel’s conditional formatting is a much better way to color text in a cell based on the cell’s value.

Formatting dates and times

When you enter a date into a cell, Excel formats the date using the system short date format. You can change this format using the Windows Control Panel (Regional and Language options).

Excel provides many useful built-in date and time formats. Table B.9 shows some other custom date and time formats that you may find useful. The first column of the table shows the date/time serial number.

Table B.9 Useful Custom Date and Time Formats

 Value Number Format Display 41456 mmmm d, yyyy (dddd) July 1, 2013 (Monday) 41456 "It’s" dddd! It’s Monday! 41456 dddd, mm/dd/yyyy Monday, 07/01/2013 41456 "Month: "mmm Month: July 41456 General (m/d/yyyy) 41456 (7/4/2013) 0.345 h "Hours" 8 Hours 0.345 h:mm "o’clock" 8:16 o’clock 0.345 h:mm a/p"m" 8:16 am 0.78 h:mm a/p".m." 6:43 p.m.

Cross-Ref

See Chapter 6, “Working with Dates and Times,” for more information about Excel’s date and time serial number system.

Displaying text with numbers

The ability to display text with a value is one of the most useful benefits of using a custom number format. To add text, just create the number format string as usual (or use a built-in number format as a starting point) and put the text within quotation marks. The following number format string, for example, displays a value with the text (US Dollars) added to the end:

#,##0.00 "(US Dollars)"

Here’s another example that displays text before the number:

"Average: "0.00

If you use the preceding number format, you’ll find that the negative sign appears before the text for negative values. To display number signs properly, use this variation:

"Average: "0.00;"Average: "-0.00

The following format string displays a value with the words Dollars and Cents. For example, the number 123.45 displays as 123 Dollars and .45 Cents.

0 "Dollars and" .00 "Cents"

Displaying a zero with dashes

The following number format string displays zero values as a series of dashes:

#,##0.0;-###0.0;------

You can, of course, create lots of variations. For example, you can replace the six hyphens with any of the following:

<0>

-0-

~~

"<NULL>"

"[NULL]"

Note

When using angle brackets or square brackets, you must place them within quotation marks.

Formatting numbers using the TEXT function

Excel’s TEXT function accepts a number format string as its second argument. For example, the following formula displays the contents of cell A1 using a custom number format that displays a fraction:

=TEXT(A1,"# ??/50")

However, not all formatting codes work when used in this manner. For example, colors and repeating characters are ignored. The following formula does not display the contents of cell A1 in red:

=TEXT(A1,"[Red]General")

Using special symbols

Your number format strings can use special symbols, such as the copyright symbol, degree symbol, and so on.

The easiest way to insert a symbol into a number format string is to enter it into a cell. Copy the character and then paste it into your custom number format string (using Ctrl+V). Use the Insert ➜ Text ➜ Symbol command, which displays the Insert Symbol dialog box, to enter a special character into a cell.

Suppressing certain types of entries

You can use number formatting to hide certain types of entries. For example, the following format string displays text but not values:

;;

This format string displays values (with one decimal place) but not text or zeros:

0.0;-0.0;;

This format string displays everything except zeros (values display with one decimal place):

0.0;-0.0;;@

You can use the following format string to completely hide the contents of a cell:

;;;

Note that when the cell is activated, however, the cell’s contents are visible on the Formula bar.

Displaying a number format string in a cell

Excel doesn’t have a worksheet function that displays the number format for a specified cell. You can, however, create your own function using VBA. Insert the following function procedure into a VBA module:

Function NUMBERFORMAT(cell) As String

' Returns the number format string for a cell

Application.Volatile True

NUMBERFORMAT = cell.Range("A1").NumberFormat

End Function

Then you can create a formula such as the following:

=NUMBERFORMAT(C4)

This formula returns the number format for cell C4. If you change a number format, use Ctrl+Alt+F9 to force the function to be reevaluated.

Cross-Ref

Refer to Part VI, “Developing Custom Worksheet Functions,” for more information about creating custom worksheet functions using VBA.

Filling a cell with a repeating character

The asterisk (*) symbol specifies a repeating character in a number format string. The repeating character completely fills the cell and adjusts if the column width changes. The following format string, for example, displays the contents of a cell padded on the right with dashes:

General*-;-General*-;General*-;General*-