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About this lesson
A classic cost-accounting trick to display variance in a easy to read way (and avoid watching your audience do math in their heads at each review)
Download this lesson’s related exercise files.Displaying Variances with Custom Number Formats.xlsx
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Displaying Variances with Custom Number Formats
Using custom number formats to show data in a better way.
When to use
When you want to customize your dashboard display to make things easier to read, add industry lingo, or just force a number format that you prefer. This specific example shows how to create variances marked with F (favorable) or U (unfavorable) instead of + or -.
Global syntax of custom number formats
- A custom number can hold up to four different formats, separated by semi-colons
- The general setup is: positive format; negative format; zero format; text format
Reserved characters used in this example
- 0 returns a number (if there is one to fill the space) or a 0
- # returns a number (if there is one to fill the space) and is suppressed if not
- , separates thousands and millions with commas (if the number goes that high)
- “ “ returns anything between the quotes as text
Number format to show Favorable/Unfavorable variances
- #,##0 F;#,##0 U;"- "
Hints & tips
- This pattern could be easily customized to use G for Good, or B for Bad, simply by substituting those letters into the formula in place of F and U
- This function could also be modified to show a red color for negative numbers by inserting [Red] after the first semi-colon as follows: #,##0 F;[Red]#,##0 U;"- "
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