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Format Cell To Include Symbols: Superscript & Subscript in Custom Formats

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Also see Custom Formats | Convert a Numeric Value into English Words | Convert a Currency or Value into English Words

One of the most important things to do in Excel is to keep numbers as numbers and text as text. Sadly, many end up mixing the 2 and find it hard or impossible to do further downstream calculations on their numbers as they have either formatted the cell as Text or mixed text and numbers in the same cells. See Excel Best Practice for more common mistakes.

Using Excel's Custom Formats we eliminate the need to format numeric cells as Text and mix text and numbers in the same cell. For example, suppose you need to show Meters2 in certain cells. This is quite easy to do with a custom number format.

  1. Select any empty cell and go Insert>Symbol and insert the symbol required. Superscript 2 in this example.

  2. Now, with the cell containing the symbol selected, click in the Formula Bar, highlight the symbol and copy (Ctrl+c)

  3. Now select the range that should show Meters2 after their entered numbers and go Format>Cells - Custom.

  4. Use either General "Meters²";-General "Meters²" or 0.00 "Meters²";-0.00 "Meters²" or another variation by pasting in the symbol (Ctrl+v).

Note the use of - in second format segment. Excel see a cells format as having four Sections. These are, from left to right Positive numbers, Negative Numbers, Zero Values and Text values. Each of these Sections are separated by a semi colon (;). If you create a custom number format you do not have to specify all four sections. By this I mean, if you included only two sections, the first section would be used for both positive numbers and zero values, while the second section would be used for negative numbers. If you only used one section, all number types would use that one format. Text is only affected by custom formats when we use all four sections, the text would use the last section. See Custom Formats for full details and many more cool number formats.

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