How to Apply Accounting Number Format in Excel (Step-by-Step)

Excel has a lot of different number formats to suit all needs. For example, you can display a number as integers, with decimals, date/time, as currency, etc.

One of the common formats that many people use is the accounting number format in Excel.

In this short tutorial, I will show you how to quickly apply the accounting number format in Excel.

But before I get into it, let me show you what an accounting format looks like.

What is the Accounting Number Format in Excel?

The accounting number format places the currency symbol (such as $ or €) at the extreme left of the cell. It also shows the number with two decimals.

Below is an example where I have the numbers in General format and the same numbers are shown in the accounting format in column B.

Accounting Format in Excel - Example

This is a fairly standard number format is used extensively in accounting (no points for guessing).

Also note that in accounting format, negative numbers are shown in parenthesis and 0 values are shown as dashes.

How to Apply the Accounting Number Format in Excel?

Applying the accounting format is fairly straightforward in Excel.

Below are the steps to apply the accounting format in Excel:

  1. Select the cells in which you want to apply the accounting format
  2. Click the Home tabClick the home tab
  3. In the Number group, click on the format drop-down (by default, it may have the General value in it)Click on the Number format drop-down
  4. Click on AccountingClick on accounting

That’s it!

The accounting format has been applied to all the selected cells.

When you do this, you will notice that the number format changes and it now has a dollar sign ($) at the left-most part of the cell and the numbers are shown up to two two decimal places.

Note: When you change the format and apply accounting format, it only changes the way the value is displayed in the cell. It does not change the actual value in the cell. So while it shows the dollar sign as a part of the format, it’s not a part of the real value in the cell. You can still use these cells for any calculation.

This is the default accounting number format in Excel. If you don’t want this, or to make a few changes. you can easily do that.

For example, if you want to no decimal points or more than two digits after the decimal, you can do that. Similarly, if you want to remove the currency symbols (dollar sign in this example), you can do that as well.

So let’ see how to edit the accounting format in Excel

Editing the default Accounting format in Excel

Let’s see a few things that can modify the accounting format to meet your needs.

Changing the Number of Decimal Values

If you want to change the number of decimal values shown in the accounting format, you can do that using the below steps:

  1. Select the cells where you already have the accounting format applied
  2. Click the Home tab
  3. In the Alignment group, click on the ‘Increase Decimal’ icon to get more decimal values to show up (or click on the ‘Decrease Decimal’ icon to reduce the number of decimal values being shown).Increase decimal in the accounting format

Removing/Changing the Currency Symbols (the Dollar sign)

You may want to remove the dollar sign (or whatever currency format show up for you) or you may want to show some other currency symbol. For example, you may want to show a Euro or Pound symbol, or you may want to show USD instead of the $ symbol.

Below are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the cells for which you want to change the currency symbols
  2. Click the Home tab
  3. In the Number group, click on the dialog launcher icon. This will open the Format Cells dialog box.Click on the dialog box launcher
  4. In the Format cells dialog box, click on the ‘Accounting’ option in the left-paneClick on acconting in format cells dialog box
  5. Change the Symbol by using the drop-down. In case you don’t want any, select None.Change the currency symbol in the accounting format or remove it

Note that you can also change the number of decimals in the accounting format from this dialog box as well.

You can also change the default currency symbol in Windows, which will also be applied to Excel. Here is a great guide that shows how to do this.

One thing that you can not change in the accounting format is the ‘thousand separators’. It will always be there. If you want to remove that, you will have to create your own custom number formatting.

Remove the Accounting Number Format

In case you have the accounting format applied to some cells and you want to remove it, you can easily do that.

Below are the steps to remove the accounting number format:

  1. Select the cells from which you want to remove the formatting
  2. Click the Home tab
  3. In the Number group, click on the drop-down
  4. Select General.Select the General format to remove the accounting format

Since General is no specific format, it will remove the accounting format and you will see the numbers only (without decimal and thousand separators)

Currency Number Format Vs Accounting Number Format in Excel

If you have worked with accounting/currency format in Excel, you would know that these have a lot of commonalities. Both of these formats are quite popular among accounting folks and are used to show monetary values.

Let me also quickly tell you why these are different (and what are those differences):

  1. In the accounting format, the currency symbol is at the left-most part of the cell. In currency format, it’s right next to the number
  2. In the accounting format, negative numbers are shown in parenthesis and 0 is shown as a dash. In currency format, negative numbers are shown with a minus sign and 0 value is shown as 0.

In both the formats (accounting and currency), you can not remove a thousand separators.

I hope you found this article on ‘how to apply accounting number format in excel’ useful.

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