What is a data type?

Data type refers to the different types of data recognized by Minitab: numeric, text, and date/time. All columns in a Minitab worksheet that contain values are assigned one of these data types; therefore, all data in one column must be the same type. Most Minitab analyses require data of specific types; for example, you can perform calculations involving decimals only on numeric columns. The data type of a column is indicated in the column header.

Examples of Minitab data types

Numeric columns are unmarked. Date/time columns are indicated by a D after the column number. Text columns are indicated by a T after the column number.
C1 C2-D C3-T
Numeric Date/Time Text
4.279 2014/07/26 Red
7.003 2014/08/11 Blue
12.127 2014/12/02 Green

Minitab treats numbers and dates in a text column (such as a street address or month name) as text.

To change the data type of columns, choose Data > Change Data Type.

What is a data format?

A data format is the way that the data are displayed in Minitab. For example, a numeric column may be displayed with a currency symbol and two decimal places.

By default, Minitab changes the format of the column based on its contents. When the contents change, the format may change. For example, say that you have a column of numbers that all have one digit after the decimal (as in 3.2, 4.3, 5.4). If you type a number with four significant digits after the decimal (as in 1.1234), Minitab changes the column format to use four decimal places, and all numbers are displayed in that format. For example, 3.2 will appear as 3.2000. When that four-digit number is removed, the column's format will switch back to a single decimal place.


You can set the format so that it doesn't change; for example, always display four digits after the decimal. You can also choose formats that include currency symbols, different date/time formats, and more, depending on the data type. To set the format of a column, click in the column, then right-click, choose Format Column, and choose the format type of the column.

The data display and the underlying values that Minitab saves may not be the same. For example, Minitab may display only two decimal places, but the underlying values include more decimal places. Or a date/time column may display only the date, but the underlying data also includes the time. Therefore, when you modify the format characteristics of a column, you are changing only the way that column is displayed in the worksheet—you are not modifying the underlying value. For example, if the number in a cell is 1.2345678 and you change the format to display only two decimals, all calculations will still use 1.2345678.

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