**If you're just starting out in Excel and wondering what kinds of information (data) you can enter into a spreadsheet, then keep reading. **

**This post runs through how to enter percentages, currency, dates and several other types of data you will frequently use. **

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## 1. What can be entered into a cell?

## 2. Entering text into a cell

Text may be typed or pasted directly into the cell. Anything that includes an alphabetic letter or symbol is considered to be text.

For example, Excel treats Fred Smith, A-Z and A123 as text.

Text will be left-aligned by default.

## 3. Entering numbers into a cell

Numbers should be entered into a cell without any additional characters. For example, 20,000 should be entered as 20000 (i.e. without the comma thousand separator).

Numbers are right-aligned by default so that each unit (singles, tens, hundreds etc.) are underneath each other.

## 4. Entering currency into a cell

Currency should be entered into a cell without any additional characters such as dollar signs, commas or spaces.

For example, $199.99 should be entered as 199.99. Then, if you click the **$** icon half way along the Home ribbon, your number will be converted to dollars and cents.

Currency figures have 2 decimal places and are right-aligned by default so that each unit (singles, tens, hundreds etc.) are underneath each other.

To show only whole dollars, click the **Decrease Decimal** icon twice (4 icons along from the **$** icon).

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## 5. Entering dates into a cell

Dates should be entered using a slash (‘/’) to separate the day, month and year.

Do not use the full stop (‘.’) as the separator as Excel will treat it as a decimal point and will probably give an error.

It does not matter whether the year is entered as a two-digit or a four-digit year.

A shortcut to enter today's date into a cell is **Ctrl ;**. This date is static which means it will never change.

This formula calculates the current date: **=TODAY()**. This date is dynamic (will always be current).

If, for example you are calculating somebody's age, you need a static date (their date of birth) and a dynamic date (the current day).

## 6. Entering time into a cell

Time should be entered using a colon (:) to separate the hours, minutes and seconds. Do not use the full stop (‘.’) as the separator.

Time can be used as a clock time (e.g. an employee starts their shift at 8am [08:00] or as a duration (e.g. a shift lasts for 7 hours and 30 minutes [7:30] ).

A shortcut to enter the current time into a cell is **Ctrl Shift ;**.

This formula calculates the current time dynamically: **=NOW()**.

## 7. Entering percentages into a cell

To enter percentages, simply follow the number with percent sign (‘%’) which can be entered by pressing **Shift 5**.

When a percentage sign is used, the number is automatically formatted to a percentage, rather than a plain number.

Each percentage has an equivalent decimal number which always falls between 0 and 1.

You cannot use the % button on the Home ribbon to format a number from decimal to a percentage because Excel multiplies the number by 100 to give the percentage. \

For example, if you convert 325 into a percentage, it becomes 32500%, because 325 is 325 times the value of 1 (100%).

## 8. Key Takeaways

There are lots of different kinds of data that can be entered into a cell. The most common types are text, numbers, currency/accounting, percentage, date and time.

**Please feel free to post any questions you have into the comments below. And before you leave this page, I want to give you one quick little action item! **

**ACTION ITEM: Share your biggest win from this page in the comments below.**

Enjoy the rest of your day!

About the author

Jason Morrell

Jason loves to simplify the hard stuff, cut the fluff and share what actually works. Things that make a difference. Things that slash hours from your daily work tasks. He runs a software training business in Queensland, Australia, lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and 4 kids and often talks about himself in the third person!

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