How to Add Parentheses in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Adding Parentheses in Excel is a breeze once you know the steps. Whether you’re trying to make your spreadsheet more readable or format numbers in a specific way, parentheses can come in handy. With just a few clicks and some simple formulas, you’ll be formatting like a pro in no time.

How to Add Parentheses in Excel

In this guide, you’ll learn how to add parentheses in Excel to format your data effectively. By following these steps, you can insert parentheses around numbers, text, or entire cells to improve readability and presentation.

Step 1: Open Your Excel Document

Open your Excel document where you want to add parentheses.

Before you start, ensure you have the Excel file open and the data you want to format is visible. If you don’t have Excel installed, you can use Excel Online or install the software from the Microsoft website.

Step 2: Select the Cell You Want to Format

Click on the cell where you wish to add parentheses.

Selecting the correct cell is crucial because that’s where you’ll be applying the formatting or formula. Make sure the cell contains the data you want to modify.

Step 3: Use the Format Cells Option

Right-click on the cell and select "Format Cells."

The "Format Cells" dialog box will pop up. This menu allows you to change various aspects of the cell’s appearance, such as its number format, font, and borders.

Step 4: Choose the Number Tab

In the "Format Cells" dialog, click on the "Number" tab.

This tab provides various formatting options for numbers, including currency, date, time, and custom formats. You’re looking for the custom format.

Step 5: Select Custom

Scroll down and select "Custom" from the list on the left.

In the "Custom" category, you can create your own number formats using placeholders and special characters, like parentheses.

Step 6: Enter the Custom Format

Type your desired format with parentheses. For example, to format a number with parentheses, enter (#,##0).

This custom format tells Excel to display your number with parentheses around it. The #,##0 part represents the number itself, and the parentheses are added around it.

Step 7: Click OK

Click the "OK" button to apply the format.

Your cell should now display the number with parentheses around it. If you want to adjust the format, you can always go back to the "Format Cells" menu.

After following these steps, the selected cell(s) will display the data surrounded by parentheses. This can make your spreadsheet more organized and easier to read.

Tips for Adding Parentheses in Excel

  1. Use Shortcut Keys: Save time by using the Ctrl+1 shortcut to open the Format Cells dialog box.
  2. Preview Your Format: Use the "Sample" box in the Format Cells dialog to preview how your formatted cells will look.
  3. Apply to Multiple Cells: You can select multiple cells and apply the same format to all of them at once.
  4. Use Formulas: Combine text and numbers in a single cell using formulas like ="(" & A1 & ")".
  5. Experiment with Custom Formats: Don’t be afraid to try different custom formats to see what works best for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add parentheses around text in Excel?

Yes, you can use the CONCATENATE function or the & operator to combine text with parentheses. For example, ="(" & A1 & ")".

How do I remove parentheses once they’ve been added?

You can remove parentheses by selecting the cell, going to "Format Cells," and changing the format back to General or another format without parentheses.

Can I add parentheses to negative numbers only?

Yes, you can. In the Custom format field, enter #,##0;(#,##0) to add parentheses around negative numbers only.

Is there a way to automate adding parentheses in multiple cells?

You can use Excel’s Fill Handle to copy the format to adjacent cells or use conditional formatting for more complex automation.

What other symbols can I add to my custom formats?

You can add various symbols like dollar signs, percentage signs, or even custom text by modifying the custom format string.


  1. Open your Excel document.
  2. Select the cell you want to format.
  3. Right-click and choose Format Cells.
  4. Click on the Number tab.
  5. Select Custom.
  6. Enter the custom format with parentheses.
  7. Click OK.


Adding parentheses in Excel is a straightforward process that can significantly improve the readability and organization of your data. Whether you’re working with numbers or text, knowing how to format cells effectively is a valuable skill. It’s not just about making your spreadsheet look pretty—proper formatting can also make it easier to understand complex data at a glance.

Feel free to experiment with different custom formats and find what works best for your specific needs. If you’re looking for more advanced tips and tricks, there are plenty of resources available online. So go ahead, open up Excel, and start adding those parentheses like a pro. Your spreadsheets will thank you!

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