Many times I want a description for my data. One approach is to put the description-a simple text string-near the cell containing the data that needs describing. For instance, a numeric value could go in cell B3, and the unit description in cell C3, which read together may be something like “3.27 miles.”
Another approach is to put the description text and the numeric value together. Creating text strings easily accomplishes this feat. Here’s a very simple example that displays “1 + 1 is 2.”
="1 + 1 is " & 1+1
The quotation marks are important. By making the text string part of a formula, you can combine the description and the value within one cell.
The disadvantage of this approach is formatting the value takes more effort; since the result is a text string, numeric cell formatting does not apply. For example, consider the above formula and the need to display two decimal places. One might naturally display the Format Cell dialog box and then choose a Number format that has two decimal places, but the results would not change. (Remember, the result of the formula is text, not a number.)
To affect the value formatting, use the TEXT function. To force the above results to display the value to two decimal places, use the following formula.
="1 + 1 is " & TEXT(1+1, "0.00")
The different formats you can use with the TEXT function have been covered in other issues of ExcelTips, and you can also find more info in Excel’s Help system. Here’s an example that displays “Today is ” along with today’s date. Enter the following formula in some cell:
="Today is " & TEXT(NOW(),"dddd, mmm dd, yyyy")
Again, the quotation marks are important, as you are constructing a text string.