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: Aligning Positive and Negative Whole Numbers in a Column.

Aligning Positive and Negative Whole Numbers in a Column

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 29, 2013)

1

Peggy described a situation where she has a series of whole numbers in a table column. The negative numbers have parentheses around them, such as (2,345). Peggy is looking for a way to align the positive and negative whole numbers in a way that allows for an "implied" right parenthesis to the right of positive numbers.

One solution, if you don't have many negative numbers, is to add a right parenthesis to the positive numbers and then simply format it as white text. It will take space in the document, but be invisible on the printout.

If you have many such numbers, however, then you should consider adding decimal tabs to the column. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the column containing the numbers.
  2. Make sure the column is left justified. (Click the Align Left tool on the Formatting toolbar.)
  3. Repeatedly click the tab indicator at the left side of the Ruler until you see the symbol for a decimal tab. (It is the only symbol that has a decimal point in it.)
  4. Click on the Ruler in the area just above the selected column.
  5. Click and drag the newly added tab stop to its final position.

That's it; the numbers should align properly in the column. Notice that a decimal tab is used, even though there are no decimal points in the column. (Whole numbers have no decimal points.) Word still aligns the numbers correctly, assuming the existence of a decimal point. It even recognizes parentheses around a number as a negative sign, and aligns the numbers accordingly.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (234) 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: Aligning Positive and Negative Whole Numbers in a Column.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing Print Dialog Box Defaults

Some of the built-in defaults in Word can't be changed. Often times, however, you can work around these defaults by using ...

Discover More

Checking for a Value in a Cell

Need to figure out if a cell contains a number so that your formula makes sense? (Perhaps it would return an error if the ...

Discover More

Finding the Date Associated with a Negative Value

When working with data taken from the real world, you often have to determine which certain conditions were met, such as when ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Setting a Default Table Border Width

When you insert a table into your document, it uses a standard-weight line around each cell in the table. If you want to ...

Discover More

Formatting Currency

If you need to format a number so that it appears as currency, it is not as easy to do in Word as it is in Excel. You can use ...

Discover More

Resizing Your Table

Need to make your table a different size? It's easy to do, using the same general technique you use when resizing a graphic. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 5 + 0?

2017-05-25 00:37:54

Damien

I have an MS Word table with cells containing whole numbers or nothing.
The numbers can be one, two or three digits.
The first and last digit of the two digit numbers align with the first and
last digit of the three digit numbers with a blank between the first and last
of the two digit numbers. The usual way to present a column of numbers
is right alignment without spaces between digits.
I have tried many variations of table properties and formatting with no result????


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.