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

Filling Table Cells with Sequential Numbers

Excel makes it very easy to add sequential numbers to a range of cells. Not so in Word's tables, where adding such numbers ...

Discover More

Speeding Up Opening and Saving a Workbook

Use a workbook for some time and you may find that it gets progressively slower to open and save. Here are some techniques ...

Discover More

Conditionally Formatting an Entire Row

Need to conditionally highlight an entire row based on the contents of a single cell in each row? This tip explains how you ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Keeping Tables on One Page

Need to make sure that your smaller tables stay on a single page? Here's a handy trick you can use to enforce this rule.

Discover More

Getting Rid of Background Color in All Tables

When working with tables (particularly those created by others), you can spend a large amount of time getting the formatting ...

Discover More

Copying Fill Color in a Table

You may spend some time getting the color in a portion of a table just right, only to be faced with the task of copying that ...

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. 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 3 + 4?

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.