Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Matching Formatting when Concatenating.

Matching Formatting when Concatenating

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 31, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


3

When using a formula to merge the contents of multiple cells into one cell, Kris is having trouble getting Excel to preserve the formatting of the original cells. For example, assume that cells A1 and B1 contain 1 and 0.33, respectively. In cell C1, he enters the following formula:

=A1 & " : " & B1

The result in cell C1 looks like this:

1:0.3333333333

The reason that the resulting C1 doesn't match what is shown in B1 (0.33) is because the value in B1 isn't really 0.33. Internally, Excel maintains values to 15 digits, so that if cell B1 contains a formula such as =1/3, internally this is maintained as 0.33333333333333. What you see in cell B1, however, depends on how the cell is formatted. In this case, the formatting probably is set to display only two digits beyond the decimal point.

There are several ways you can get the desired results in cell C1, however. One method is to simply modify your formula a bit so that the values pulled from cells A1 and B1 are formatted. For instance, the following example uses the TEXT function to do the formatting:

=TEXT(A1,"0") & " : " & TEXT(B1,"0.00")

In this case, A1 is formatted to display only whole numbers and B1 is formatted to display only two decimal places. You could also use the ROUND function to achieve a similar result:

=ROUND(A1,0) & " : " & ROUND(B1,2)

Another possible solution is to change how Excel deals with precision in the workbook. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Advanced option at the left of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you see the When Calculating This Workbook section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Excel Option dialog box.

  5. Ensure that the Set Precision As Displayed check box is selected.
  6. Click OK.

Now, Excel uses the precision shown on the screen in all of its calculations and concatenations instead of doing calculations at the full 15-digit precision it normally maintains. While this approach may be acceptable for some users, for others it will present more problems than it solves. You will need to determine if you can live with the lower precision in order to get the output formatted the way you expect.

Still another approach is to create your own user-defined function that will return what is displayed for the target cell, rather than what is stored there. The following macro will work great in this regard:

Function FmtText(rng As Range)
    Application.Volatile
    FmtText = rng.Cells(1).Text
End Function

To use this macro, you would use a formula like this in your worksheet:

=FmtText(A1) & " : " & FmtText(B1)

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8886) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Matching Formatting when Concatenating.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is eight more than 2?

2023-09-02 10:28:29

J. Woolley

After further consideration of my last comment below, with or without Application.Volatile FmtText(A1) will not update if A1 is simply reformatted; in this case, however, FmtText(A1) will update the next time any cell on the worksheet is recalculated if and only if Application.Volatile is included.


2023-09-01 15:33:43

J. Woolley

@Mike J
You are correct. Application.Volatile is unnecessary because the UDF will automatically recalculate whenever its argument changes. It should be noted that the argument must refer to a range of one or more cells like A1 or A1:D4 but only the first cell (A1) applies. If the argument is a formula like A1+B1, the result is a #VALUE! error. However, a formula that returns a range like OFFSET(B1,0,-1) is okay.


2023-08-31 05:34:27

Mike J

Why does the UDF require Application.Volatile? It seems an unnecessary overhead.


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