Can't Set Custom Format in VBA

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 23, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Stuart uses the NumberFormat property, in a macro, to set the custom format for a cell. He sets it equal to #,##0.00_);[Red](#,##0.00), but when he later looks at it, Excel changes the format to #,##0.00;[Red]-#,##0.00.

You can set the custom format of a selection of cells in this manner:

Sub SetCells()
    Selection.NumberFormat = "#,##0.00_);[Red](#,##0.00)"
End Sub

Similarly, you could set the custom format of a specific range of cells in this manner:

Sub SetCells()
    Range("A1").NumberFormat = "#,##0.00_);[Red](#,##0.00)"
End Sub

Either approach sets the custom format correctly, as confirmed through testing. If the format doesn't appear as expected (and you are sure the format pattern matches what is shown above), then there are only two reasons I can think of that would cause the discrepancy. First, it is possible that other macro code is changing the custom format without your knowledge, particularly code in an event handler. Why an event handler? Because event handlers often make changes automatically, typically after cell changes or even moving from one cell to another.

The second possibility is that what you are seeing in the worksheet is not the result of the custom format, but actually the result of a conditional format. You'll need to check and possibly change the conditional formatting rules to deal with this possibility.

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 (12941) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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