Numeric data and display formats

Usually, columns of numbers have a data type of numeric. You can specify a display format for each column.

What numbers and symbols does Minitab accept?

Minitab accepts number characters (0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) and the missing value symbol * as numeric data. 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 (%). If a column contains any characters other than numbers, the exponential E, an *, a %, or a currency symbol, then Minitab formats the column as text.

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

Minitab worksheets can 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. Minitab displays columns with very large or very small numbers in exponential notation.

Exponential notation

Exponential (scientific) notation is useful when you have very large or very small numbers. Exponential notation in Minitab consists of these elements:
  • A coefficient, which can be an integer or decimal number
  • The letter E, which is the equivalent of the "x 10" in scientific notation
  • The exponent, which is a negative or positive integer
The following table displays examples of exponential notation.
Number Standard notation Minitab notation
12,000,000,000 1.2 x 1010 1.2E+10
−12,000,000,000 −1.2 x 1010 −1.2E+10
0.00000000012 1.2 x 10 −10 1.2E−10
−0.00000000012 −1.2 x 10−10 −1.2E−10

To change the display format for a column to exponential, click in the column, right-click, and choose Format Column. Then, under Choose type, select Exponential.

Currency format

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


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 the symbols directly into dialog boxes or session commands as input.

Currency symbols

By default, Minitab recognizes the currency symbol that is selected in the region and language settings of the Windows Control Panel. If you enter currency values into Minitab that use a different currency symbol, then Minitab retains the currency symbol but 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), then Minitab formats the column as text. However, you can change the display format of a column to recognize a different currency symbol, without changing the regional settings in the Windows Control Panel.

For example, 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 (€).
  1. Click in the column, right-click, and choose Format Column.
  2. From Choose type, select Currency.
  3. From Symbol, select Euro (€ 123).
  4. Click OK.

Positive and negative currency values

To represent positive currency values, Minitab uses the positive currency format that is 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 €.