How to Show Negative Numbers in Excel (5 Ways)

Method 1 – Using Parenthesis


  • Select the data range containing negative numbers.
  • Click on the Number Format icon in the Number group.
    Selecting Number Formats to Open Format Cells Dialog Box
    As a result, the Format Cells dialog box will appear.
  • In the Format Cells dialog box:
    • Choose a Number from the Category.
    • Select the option with parentheses.
    • Click OK.

    Choosing Format with Parentheses for Negative Numbers

Look at the dataset. All the negative numbers are in parentheses.

Negative Numbers Showed with Parenthesis

Note: We can also avail of the Format Cells using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1.

Read More: How to Add Negative Numbers in Excel

Method 2 – Using Custom Formatting


  • Select the cells containing negative numbers.
  • Press Ctrl + 1 to open the Format Cells dialog box.
  • Select  Number tab > Category > Custom.
  • Insert the target custom format in the Type box. I entered $#,##0_);[Magenta]($#,##0) to show the negative numbers in brackets and color them Magenta.
  • Click OK.
    Confirming Custom FormattingAll the negative numbers inside the dataset are in parentheses and colored in Magenta.

Negative Numbers Shown in Different Font Color and Currency Format

Note: In $#,##0_);[Magenta]($#,##0) custom format, the part before the semicolon in the code is to format the positive numbers, and the other one after the semicolon is to format the negative numbers. Excel offers 8 different color supports for user-defined number types. The names of these colors are: [Black], [White], [Red], [Green], [Yellow], [Magenta], [Cyan] and [Blue]. Color names need to be enclosed in brackets.

Read More: How to Put a Negative Number in Excel Formula

Method 3 – Using Accounting Formatting


  • Select the whole data range containing negative numbers.
  • Click on the Home tab > Number group > Accounting Number Format icon.
    Applying Accounting Format on Numbers

Now you can see the negative numbers are inside the first bracket in the Accounting format.

Negative Numbers Showed in Accounting Format

Read More: Excel Formula to Return Zero If Negative Value is Found

Method 4 – Applying Conditional Formatting


  • Select the data range first.
  • Select Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule.
    Applying Conditional Formatting for Negative Numbers
  • In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, select the rule type Format only cells that contain.
  • Edit the rule description as follows:
    • For the 1st empty field, select Cell Value from the drop-down list.
    • For the 2nd empty field, select less than from the drop-down list.
    • For the 3rd empty field, put 0 in it.

    Editing Rule Description

  • Click on the Format button to open the Format Cells dialog box.
  • In the Format Cells dialog box:
    • Go to the Font tab.
    • Set a Font Style and Color of your choice. Here, I have selected an Italic font style and Red color.
    • Click OK inside the Format Cells dialog box.
  • Click OK inside the New Formatting Rule dialog box.
    The negative numbers in the data range are shown in the italic font style and red color.

Here’s an image showing that if any numbers in the range are inserted as negative, it will be automatically formatted.

Automatic Output for Conditional Formatting

Method 5 – Using VBA

5.1 Using VBA Subroutine


  • Open the VBA window by pressing Alt + F11 on your keyboard.
  • Inside the VBA window, select Insert > Module.
    Opening VBA Module
  • Enter the code below inside the Module.
    Sub ShowNegativeNumbers()
    Dim mn_rng As Range
    For Each mn_rng In Selection
        If mn_rng.Value < 0 Then
            mn_rng.Font.Color = vbRed
            mn_rng.Font.Color = vbBlack
        End If
    Next mn_rng
    End Sub
  • Click on the Run Sub button.
    Pressing Run Sub Icon to Run the VBA Code

After running the Macro, you will see the negative numbers in the Red color font.

Negative Numbers Formatted by VBA
5.2 Assigning VBA Macro to a Button


What to Do When Negative Numbers Aren’t Showing with Parentheses in Excel

Although Excel can show negative numbers with brackets, it may occur to some users that the negative numbers cannot be shown with parentheses in Excel. The reason is that the ($1,234.10) option isn’t available.


  • Open the Control Panel.
  • Choose the Change date, time, or number formats.
    Opening Change date, time or number formats window from Control PanelThe Region window will pop up.
  • Inside the Region window, select Additional settings.
    Opening Addtional SettingsA new window named Customized Format will pop out.
  • Inside the Customized Format window:
    • Select the format (1.1) for the Negative number format.
    • Click OK.

    Changing Format for Negative Numbers

  • Close the Excel file and reopen it.

Hopefully, this will solve your problem of negative numbers not showing in the Excel file.

Read More: How to Make a Group of Cells Negative in Excel

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Rafiul Hasan
Rafiul Hasan

Rafiul Hasan, holding a BSc in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, contributes significantly to the ExcelDemy project with almost 1.6 years of dedicated work. Currently an Excel and VBA Content Developer, he has a passion for problem-solving. Authoring over 100 articles for ExcelDemy showcases expertise in Microsoft Office Suites and Data Analysis. In addition to content development, Rafiul actively engages with the ExcelDemy forum, offering valuable solutions to user queries and... Read Full Bio

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