Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Changing the Percent Symbol.

Changing the Percent Symbol

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 5, 2015)

Brian asked whether it is possible to use a symbol different than the percent sign (%) to represent a percentage in a cell. This is actually rather easy to do using a custom format, as described in other ExcelTips. All you need to do is create a custom format that looks similar to this:

0.0"#"

This displays a value followed by a pound sign, so that 12.3 would be displayed as 12.3#. To use a different symbol, just change whatever is within the quote marks. You can also get fancier with the custom format, such as this one that displays the word "widgets" instead of the percent sign and shows negative values in red:

#,##0_)"widgets";[Red](#,##0) "widgets"

The thing to remember about this approach is that the value is displayed "as is," so to speak. When you enter a value into a cell that is formatted as a percentage, Excel can—and often does—modify the value so it is internally consistent with a percentage. For instance, enter the value 12.3 into a cell formatted as a percentage, and Excel converts it to 0.123, which is 12.3%. If you apply a custom format to a cell and then enter the value 12.3, Excel will leave it at 12.3; it won't divide it by 100. While a display of "12.3%" and "12.3#" may look similar, the actual contents of the cell are quite different, assuming that the first is a true percentage and the second is not.

If you don't really care whether the value in the cell is usable in formulas, another approach is that you could concatenate your own symbol to the end of the value. For instance, if you have a percentage in cell A1, you could use the following in a different cell:

=A1 * 100 & " pct"

If cell A1 contains the 12.3% (a cell value of 0.123), then the formula returns "12.3 pct" (without the quote marks). Since what is returned is actually text and no longer a numeric value, the result cannot be used in other numeric formulas.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11834) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Changing the Percent Symbol.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Deletions Don't Work as Expected

We all get into habits, including in how we use Word. If you are used to deleting text in a particular way, and all of a ...

Discover More

Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell

The formatting capabilities provided by Excel are quite diverse. This tip examines how you can use those capabilities to make ...

Discover More

Saving Non-Existent Changes

Open a workbook, look at the data, start to close the workbook, and you are asked if you want to save your changes. What ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Getting Rid of Negative Zero Amounts

Have you ever seen a worksheet in which some zero values have a negative sign in front of them? There's a reason for this, as ...

Discover More

Moving Custom Formats to Number Formatting Categories

Moving your custom formats into a formatting category other than "custom" isn't something you can do in Excel. Here's ...

Discover More

Underlining Text in Cells

Want a quick way to add some underlines to your cell values? It's easy using the shortcuts provided in this tip.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 - 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.