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Setting Table Values to Three Decimal Places

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Setting Table Values to Three Decimal Places.

Jacob has a table containing numeric values pulled from another program. One of the columns has numbers that might be 3.256000 in one cell and 23.200000 in another. He always needs to go through all of these numbers and make them only 3 digits to the right of the decimal point. Jacob wonders if there is a way to automatically step through all the values using a macro and make sure they have only three digits to the right of the decimal point.

This could certainly be done with a macro, but that might not be the best way to do it. The first potential solution is to look at how you are getting your original data. If it is possible, you might want to change the program that generates the data so that it uses only three decimal places. Or, change it so that the data ends up in an Excel worksheet that you can then embed within your Word document.

If that doesn't work, you might be able to modify the program so that it doesn't insert numeric values, but inserts fields that display the numeric values. This may sound confusing, but you can use fields to display only a specific number of digits of a value. This type of field formatting has been discussed in other WordTips.

If you cannot change the way that the original program generates the information that ends up in the table (and most of the time people can't change it), then you can use Find and Replace to limit your values to three decimal places. Follow these steps:

  1. If you want to limit your replace operation to a specific portion of your document (such as a table or a column within a table), select that portion of the document.
  2. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. If the More button is visible, click it so that you end up with an expanded dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  5. In the Find What box, enter the following: ([0-9].[0-9]{3})[0-9]{1,}
  6. In the Replace With box, enter the following: \1
  7. Click Replace All.

What these steps do is to look for any digit (0 through 9) followed by a decimal point and three digits. This is a "group" (one digit, decimal point, three digits) that must be immediately followed by at least one digit, and perhaps more. When this sequence is found, it is replaced by the first group (one digit, decimal point, three digits). The result is that everything beyond the third digit after the decimal point is chopped off.

This Find and Replace approach is quick and easy, and it doesn't involve the use of macros. It also doesn't round the information that is left in your document. If you need to have the values rounded to three digits instead of cut off at three digits, then you are best to go back to the "see if you can change the originating program" approach discussed at the beginning of this tip.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (575) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Setting Table Values to Three Decimal Places.

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Comments for this tip:

Yasir    18 Feb 2014, 11:48
Wonderful tip, saved me a lot of time. I could have gone back and fixed the originating program at three decimal place, but that was a very length process.

thank you and thank you.
 
 

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