Changing the appearance of cell content can help differentiate between different parts of a spreadsheet and to give the data more meaning. Cells can be formatted to display text and numbers in different ways.

Cells must be selected first before you start to change the format.

Follow this link to learn how to select cells

Once the cells are selected, press the Applications Key (or Shift + F10), arrow down to Format Cells and press Enter. Alternatively, press the letter F in the Context menu. This gives the Format Cells dialogue containing different pages of options: Number, Alignment, Font, Border, Fill, and Protection. Press Control + Tab to move between these pages of options.

Data Formatting

On the Number page, there are many different categories that you can use in Excel such as currency, date, time, percentage etc. These different categories give additional options so that Excel will automatically display information correctly and handle data appropriately, especially when used in calculations and sorting.

When you choose a category from the list, the appropriate options become available. The main categories used in Excel are: Number, Date, Currency and Percentages. Open the Format Cells dialogue and press Control + Tab to get to the Number options. Then Tab to the Category list to choose the appropriate format.

To format numbers:

  1. In the category list, arrow down to Number.
  2. Tab to Decimal Places to set the number of digits to display after the decimal point.
  3. Tab to the Use 1000 separator check box and press the Spacebar if you need the comma included, when working with large numbers.
  4. Tab again for options on how to display negative numbers.
  5. Press Enter when finished.

To format currency data:

  1. In the category list, arrow down to Currency.
  2. Tab to Decimal Places to set the number of digits to display after the decimal point.
  3. Tab again and use the up and down arrows to choose the currency symbol.
  4. And finally Tab to choose how to display negative values.
  5. Press Enter when finished.

To format dates:

  1. In the category list, arrow down to Date.
  2. Tab to Type and arrow down to the required date format.
  3. Tab to the Locale (location) list to choose your region (this may affect the order of the day and the month).
  4. If you changed the region, you may need to press Shift + Tab to check the date format again because the options may have changed.
  5. Press Enter when finished.

To format percentage values:

  1. In the category list, arrow down to Percentage.
  2. Tab to Decimal Places to set the number of digits to display after the decimal point.
  3. Press Enter when finished.

Alternatively, you can select the cells and then press Control + Shift + Percent sign to change the category to percentages. The percent sign is on the number 5 key. Percentage values automatically multiply the data by 100 and display a percentage symbol.

Text Formatting

Within the Format Cells dialogue, there is a page for Font. This page gives options to change the font type, style, size, underline, colour etc. Press Control + Shift + F to go straight to the Font page of the Format Cells dialogue. Use the Tab key to move between the options and arrow keys to choose the settings.

You can also use some of the standard formatting shortcuts:

  • Control + B for bold type
  • Control + U for underline
  • Control + I for italics

You can also access all the formatting options from the Home Ribbon, rather than using the Format Cells dialogue, if preferred. Press Alt + H and then Tab through the options.

Copying Formatting

You can also copy and paste formatting within a spreadsheet, so that you can make sure that the appearance of the text and data is consistent.

To copy and paste formatting:

  1. Select the cell with the format that you want to copy and press Control + C.
  2. Select the cells that you want to apply the same formatting to.
  3. Press the Applications key (or Shift + F10) and arrow down to Paste Options.
  4. Arrow right to Formatting and press Enter.