Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. 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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 14, 2013)

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 and 2010. 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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