How to limit significant figures in Excel

Significant figures are the digits in a number that contribute to its precision. The more significant figures a number has, the more precise it is. Limiting significant figures in Excel means reducing the number of digits displayed in a cell or formula to a specific number of significant digits. Limiting significant figures promotes accuracy, clarity, consistency, and precision.

We have a dataset that contains numbers with a high number of significant figures. To make the data more manageable and easier to read, we want to limit the significant figures to two. There are two methods we can use to achieve this: the first is to utilize the round function, and the second is to use the decrease decimal option.

Method 1: Limit the Significant figures using the Round function

The ROUND function in Excel is used to round a number to a specified number of digits. The syntax of the function is as follows:

=ROUND(number, num_digits)

  • where number is the number you want to round 
  • and num_digits is the number of digits to which you want to round the number.

Step 1 – Select the cell

  • Click on the cell where you want to show the result

Step 2 – Use the Round function

  • After selecting the cell, type “=ROUND(” to use the Round function

Step 3 – Type the Arguments of the function

  • After applying the function type its arguments:
  • Number: A2
  • Num-digits:2
  • After typing the Arguments, type a closing bracket “)”

Step 4 – Press the Enter key

  • After typing the arguments, press the Enter key to get the required result

Step 5 – Apply on Complete Column

  • After getting the result, Drag the cell to the end of the column to apply the same function to the complete column.

Method 2:Limit the Significant figures using the Decrease Decimal option

Step 1 – Click on the cell

  • Click on the cell whose value is to be changed

Step 2 – Click on the Decrease decimal option

  • After selecting the cell, Click on the Decrease Decimal option in the Numbers group of the Home tab
  • Click the Decrease Decimal option repeatedly until the desired number of digits is reached. Each time you click it, one digit is reduced
  • In our case, we clicked the Decrease Decimal option 3 times to get the required result.
  • If we wish to limit the number of decimal places for the whole data set to the same number of digits then we can do this by selecting them together and then following the above mentioned steps to limit the number as per our requirements.