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: Custom Formats for Scientific Notation.

Custom Formats for Scientific Notation

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 21, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


5

Reid notes that he can display numbers using scientific notation and they appear in Excel in the format 1.23E+03 or 1.23E-03. He would like the scientific notation to be shown differently, such as 1.23x10^3 or 1.23x10^-3.

There is no way in Excel to change the way in which scientific notation is displayed. The only workaround is to use a formula to put together a text representation of what you want. For instance, if a value that uses Excel's scientific notation is stored in cell C7, you could use the following formula:

=LEFT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),3) & "x10^" & RIGHT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),3)

This formula essentially pulls the left portion of the number (the part before the E) and combines it with the right part of the number (the part after the E) together with the "x10^" notation. The result is considered a text string by Excel; it cannot be used in subsequent calculations.

If you needed to do quite a bit of formatting in this manner, it would be a relatively trivial matter to create a macro that returned the formatted text string based on the number. Create it as a user-defined function and you could then use it in your formulas.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9236) 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: Custom Formats for Scientific Notation.

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 six more than 3?

2023-03-22 23:22:32

Philip

@Allan, try this as formula: "=LEFT(TEXT(A1,"0.000000000000000E+00"),15) & "x10^" & RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"0.000000000000000E+00"),3)"

When using it on A1 which contains the formule "=pi()*100" the result is 3.1415926535897x10^+02


2023-03-21 10:35:14

Philip

@Allan, I’m not at my Mac right now so can’t test my suggestion here for a while, but what I’d try is to set the number of digits to 15 (which I believe is the maximum accuracy for Excel in any case), by replacing the “0.00E+0” in the formula with “0.0#############E+0” (so minimum 1digit before the decimal point, 1 digit after the decimal point and 13 “optional” digits where they exist in the original number value. I believe “#” in a conditional format is used for the setting number of digits only to appear when necessary, where “0” forces a digit to appear even if non-existent (in which case it would show a 0). For that matter, if this works, you may want to add some “#” as well for the exponent part of the notation (which in the tip is limited to the 9th power of 10).

When I get some time, I’ll test this, and will confirm back here. If you beat me to it, let me know how it went.


2023-03-21 07:51:02

Alan Cannon

This forces all digits beyond the 1st 2 digits of the number to be lost. 5213 becomes 5.2x10^+3, losing 13. A much more complicated formula would be required to show additional digits, and all beyond the specified number digits would still be permanently lost.


2019-04-17 16:55:25

Yvan Loranger

Try =LEFT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),4) & "x10^" & RIGHT(TEXT(D7,"0.00E+0"),2)


2019-04-08 05:33:23

David Robinson

After getting the number into the text format I'd just substitute "E" with "x10^" and, I suppose, "+" with "".


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