The standard accounting number format contains a dollar sign, a thousands separator and two decimal points. Although spreadsheet software offers a default format for accounting data, don't assume it's the company standard. A company may officially or unofficially use an accounting format other than the software default.

Standard Accounting Number Format

The standard accounting format contains two decimal points, a thousands separator, and locks the dollar sign to the far left side of the cell. Negative numbers are displayed in parentheses. To apply the accounting format in a spreadsheet program, highlight all desired cells and click "Accounting Number Format" under formatting options.

Format Variations

Although word processing and spreadsheet programs provide a specific accounting number format, practices vary by company. Sometimes the power of company culture and habit overpowers the convenience of software standards. Because of this, many companies maintain a standard for accounting number formatting that's slightly different than the software default. Mismatched number formats can look unprofessional, so compare notes with staff and managers before choosing a format.