What numbers and symbols are allowed?

Numeric data consist of number characters (0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) and the missing value symbol *. Numeric data can include positive and negative signs (+ and -) and a decimal separator. To enter data in exponential (scientific) notation, use the letter E, as in 3.2E12. You can also enter numeric data with a currency symbol or a percentage sign (%). Columns that contain any character other than numbers, an *, a %, or a currency symbol are formatted as text.

How does Minitab handle very large numbers and very small numbers?

In the worksheet, you may store negative or positive numbers up to ±1x1018. Minitab converts any number that is larger than this limit to missing and displays an explanatory error message. If you have data that is larger than this limit, rescale the data before entering it into Minitab.

If a column contains a number that is very large or very small, Minitab changes the column format to use exponential notation, and all numbers are displayed in that format. While the column contains that very small or large number, the column's format will be exponential. When that very small or large number is removed, the column's format switches back to decimal notation.

Enter a number in exponential notation

To enter a number in exponential notation, type three elements in the cell:
  • A number, which can be an integer or decimal number
  • The letter E, which means to multiply by 10
  • The exponent

For example, the number 3200 is equal to 32 x 102 or 3.2 x 103; therefore, you could enter 32E2 or 3.2E3.

Change the numeric data display format

The data display format is the way that the data are displayed in Minitab. By default, Minitab automatically changes the decimal or exponential format of columns based on their contents. When the contents change, the format may change. To set the format of the numeric column, including the number of decimals to display, follow these steps.

  1. Click in the column and choose Editor > Format Column.
  2. Choose a numeric format:
    • Automatic: Minitab determines the format depending on the values in the column.
    • Fixed decimal: Numbers are displayed with the number of decimal places you specify.
    • Exponential: Numbers are displayed in exponential format with the number of decimal places you specify.
    • Currency: Numbers are displayed with the currency symbol, negative number format, and the number of decimal places you specify.
    • Percentage: Numbers are displayed as percentages with the number of decimal places you specify.
  3. Click OK.

Example of changing the currency format

Suppose you select the U.S. dollar ($) as the currency symbol in the regional settings of the Windows Control Panel because you record currency values primarily in dollars. You want to enter numeric data in one column using the Euro (€). In Minitab, you can change the currency format of a column without changing the regional settings in the Windows Control Panel.

  1. Click in the column and choose Editor > Format Column.
  2. Under Choose type, select Currency.
  3. Under Symbol, choose € Euro (€ 123).
  4. Click OK.

About the currency format

Minitab can display currency symbols with numeric data in the worksheet. You can analyze this data the same way you would any other numeric data.

Currency symbols

By default, Minitab recognizes the currency symbol selected in the region and language settings of the Windows Control Panel. If you enter a value that contains the currency symbol into an empty, unformatted worksheet column, Minitab retains the currency symbol and formats the column as numeric.

If you enter currency values into Minitab that do not follow a specified currency format, Minitab retains the currency symbol and formats the data as text, instead of numeric. For example, if your regional currency setting is a $ (dollar sign) and you enter a value with a ₤ (pound sign), Minitab formats the column as text.


The currency and percentage format for numeric data are primarily for display only. Although you can analyze data in these formats like other numeric data, Minitab does not usually recognize the currency and percentage symbols when you enter them directly into dialog boxes or session commands as input.

Positive and negative currency values

To represent positive currency values, Minitab uses the positive currency format you have selected in the regional settings of the Windows Control Panel. For example, you can represent a positive currency value of 5 euros by entering either € 5.00 or 5.00 €.

To represent negative currency values, Minitab uses either - or ( ). For example, you can indicate a currency value of negative 2.25 euros by entering either (2.25 €) or -2.25 €.

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