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.
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:
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:
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.
Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!
Excel allows you to adjust spacing between cell walls and the contents of those cells. It does not, however, allow you to ...Discover More
Applying different formatting to the text within a cell can seem a bit confusing. This is certainly the case when it comes to ...Discover More
Excel is continually trying to figure out what type of data is being stored in a cell. If it can interpret a value as a date, ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.