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Limit Decimal Places (Significant Figures) in Excel & Google Sheets

This tutorial demonstrates how to limit decimal places (set the number of significant figures) for a value in Excel and Google Sheets.

 

excel limit decimal places

 

You can either use the ROUND Function to limit decimal places in Excel, or you can use cell formatting to limit the number of decimal places displayed. The ROUND Function amends the original value; using cell formatting retains the exact original value.

ROUND Function

The ROUND Function is one of a few Excel functions that enables you to limit the number of decimal places in a cell.

  1. Select the cell to the right of the cell you wish to amend.
    For this example, the original number is in cell B2.

 

limit decimal select cell

 

  1. Type in the following formula:
=ROUND(B2,2)

Your data is rounded to 2 decimal places.

 

limit decimal round function

 

If there’s a column of data to round, copy the formula down.

You can also use the MROUND, ROUNDDOWN, FLOOR, ROUNDUP, CEILING, INT, and TRUNC Functions to round numerical data in Excel.

Limit Decimal Places

If you type a decimal number into a cell without any cell formatting (General format), Excel will display as many decimal places as the cell width allows for. For this example, consider a number with 8 decimal places, as shown below.

 

excel decimal number initial data

 

Column B has the standard width, so it displays 6 decimal places. Although you didn’t explicitly format the cell as a number, Excel recognizes is as a number and rounds it up (4.23871695 → 4.238717). Note that the stored value is exactly the same.

Theoretically, you can limit the number of decimal places by reducing the cell width, but it’s not a good option. For one, the width can sometimes change automatically if more data is entered into the column.

In the Ribbon

To decrease the number of decimal places, select the cell with a number (here, B2), and in the Ribbon, go to Home > Decrease Decimal.
One click decreases the number of decimal places by one.

 

number decrease decimal digits

 

As shown in the picture above, the number of decimal places in cell B2 is decreased to 5. Also, the cell format automatically changes from General to Number.

Number Formatting

You can also limit decimal places using number formatting.

  1. Select the cell with a number (B2) and in the Ribbon, go to Home > Number Format.

 

limit decimal places number format

 

  1. In the Format Cells window, enter the number of decimal places (for example, 3) and click OK. You can immediately see how the number will look in the Sample box.

 

limit decimal places number format 2

 

As a result, the number in cell B2 is rounded to 3 decimal places.

 

excel decimal number final data

 

Note: If you format the cell as a number, Excel displays 2 decimal places by default.

See also…

Limit Decimal Places in Google Sheets

ROUND Function

The ROUND Functions works the same way in Google Sheets as it does in Excel.

Number Format

In Google Sheets, decimal numbers are also displayed depending on the column width. Unlike Excel, Google Sheets doesn’t automatically display rounded values. Therefore, if you reduce the column width, it won’t round the number, just cut off the extra decimal places.

When you format the cell as a number, it’s rounded to 2 decimal places. Follow these steps to reduce the number of displayed decimal places to one:

  1. First format the cell as a number. Select the cell (B2) and in the Menu, go to Format > Number > Number.

 

google sheets format as number

 

Now cell B2 is formatted as a number with – by default – 2 decimal places.

 

google sheets format as number 2

 

  1. Now you can limit the decimal places. Select the number cell  and in the Menu, go to Format > Number > More Formats > Custom number format.

 

google sheets set decimal limit

 

  1. In the Custom number formats window, enter #,##0.0 and click Apply. Zeros after the decimal point represent the number of decimal places that will be displayed.

 

google sheets set decimal limit 2

 

Finally, the number in cell B2, as displayed, is limited to 1 decimal place.

 

google sheets final data