How to Format Excel in Millions: A Step-by-Step Guide

Formatting Excel in millions is a quick way to make your data more readable and presentable. By customizing the cell format, you can display large numbers in a condensed and understandable format, using the letter “M” to represent millions. This is particularly useful for financial data or any dataset where large values are common.

After you complete the action, all the selected cells in Excel will display numbers in millions, rounded to the desired decimal places. This makes it easier to analyze and compare large datasets, as the numbers are more digestible at a glance.


When dealing with large sets of numerical data in Excel, readability can become an issue. Let’s face it, rows and rows of seven or eight-digit numbers can be intimidating and difficult to comprehend quickly. For financial analysts, accountants, and anyone who often works with financial reports, presenting data in a clear, concise manner is crucial. That’s where the ability to format Excel in millions comes into play.

Imagine you’re presenting a financial report to your company’s stakeholders. They’re not interested in the minutiae; they want to see the big picture. If your spreadsheet is a sea of numbers, their eyes will glaze over. But, if you can express those numbers in millions, suddenly the data becomes more approachable. It’s the difference between saying “Our revenue was $10,000,000” and “Our revenue was $10M.” The latter is simpler, cleaner, and more impactful.

This skill is not just for the spreadsheet savvy. Anybody who wants to make their data more accessible can benefit from knowing how to format Excel in millions. So, whether you’re a student, a business owner, or just someone who loves organizing data, this article will guide you through the process.

Step by Step Tutorial: Formatting Excel in Millions

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to understand that what we’re aiming to do here is to format the appearance of the numbers in your Excel spreadsheet without changing the underlying values. This means that while the cells will display simplified numbers, the full values will still be there, should you need them for calculations.

Step 1: Select the cells you want to format

Click and drag to highlight the cells containing the numbers you wish to format in millions.

Selecting the correct cells is crucial. If you’re working with a column of revenue figures, for instance, make sure only those cells are highlighted. This will prevent you from accidentally formatting unrelated data.

Step 2: Open the Format Cells dialog box

Right-click on the selected cells and choose ‘Format Cells’, or press Ctrl+1 on your keyboard.

The Format Cells dialog box is where all the magic happens. Here, you can customize the number formatting to suit your needs.

Step 3: Go to the ‘Custom’ category

In the Format Cells dialog box, click on the ‘Number’ tab and then select ‘Custom’ at the bottom of the category list.

The Custom category allows you to define your own number formatting rules, which is essential for displaying numbers in millions.

Step 4: Enter the custom format code

In the ‘Type’ field, input the code “#,##0.0,,” to format the number in millions with one decimal place. Add or remove zeros after the decimal point to increase or decrease the number of decimal places.

This code tells Excel to use a comma as a thousands separator and to scale the number by a million. So, a full value of 2,500,000 will display as 2.5.

Step 5: Click ‘OK’ to apply the format

Once you’ve input the custom format code, click ‘OK’ to apply it to the selected cells.

Now, your data will appear simplified, cleaner, and ready for presentation. Remember, this formatting is purely visual—the actual cell values remain unchanged.


Improved ReadabilityFormatting in millions simplifies large numbers, making them easier to read and understand at a glance.
Enhanced PresentationData presented in millions is cleaner and more professional, which is particularly useful for reports and presentations.
Maintained Data IntegrityThe underlying values of the cells remain unchanged, ensuring accuracy for calculations and further data analysis.


Possible ConfusionSome viewers may not immediately understand that numbers are being displayed in millions, which could lead to misinterpretation.
Limited CustomizationExcel’s custom formatting has limitations, and extremely specific formatting requests may not be possible.
Potential for ErrorsIf the formatting is not applied correctly, it can lead to errors or misrepresent the data, especially if further calculations are involved.

Additional Information

While the steps above have outlined how to format Excel in millions, there are a few additional tips and insights worth keeping in mind. First, remember that you can always adjust the number of decimal places in the custom format code to suit your preferences. If you’re dealing with very large numbers and need to format in billions, you can use the format code “#,##0.0,,”—simply add another comma at the end.

It’s also worth noting that you can combine text and numbers in a custom format. For instance, you could use the format code “#,##0.0,”M”” to explicitly display the letter ‘M’ after the number, making it clear that the value is in millions.

When it comes to analyzing or calculating data that’s been formatted in this way, Excel will use the full values behind the scenes. However, be cautious when copying and pasting these values into other programs or documents, as they may carry over the displayed format rather than the actual value.


  1. Select the cells you want to format
  2. Open the Format Cells dialog box
  3. Go to the ‘Custom’ category
  4. Enter the custom format code
  5. Click ‘OK’ to apply the format

Frequently Asked Questions

Will formatting in millions change the actual value of the cells?

No, the actual cell values remain unchanged. This formatting only affects how the values are displayed.

Can I format cells in billions instead of millions?

Yes, simply add an extra comma to the custom format code (e.g., “#,##0.0,,,”).

How do I revert back to the original number format?

Select the cells, open the Format Cells dialog box, go to the ‘Number’ tab, and choose the format you originally had.

Can I use this formatting for charts and graphs in Excel?

Yes, the formatted values can be reflected in charts and graphs, making them more readable as well.

How can I show that the numbers are in millions on the spreadsheet?

You can modify the custom format code to include the letter ‘M’ (e.g., “#,##0.0,”M””) or add a note to your spreadsheet for clarification.


Mastering how to format Excel in millions is more than just a neat spreadsheet trick; it’s a skill that can vastly improve the way we present and interpret large sets of data. Whether you’re an Excel newbie or a seasoned pro, understanding the nuances of custom formatting can make you a more effective data communicator.

Remember, the goal is to make your data work for you—not the other way around. So next time you’re drowning in a sea of digits, take a breath, and format in millions. Your audience will thank you for it.

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