According to this Google help article, I should be able to do the following to apply custom number formatting in a Google Sheets document.

  1. Highlight the data you want to format.
  2. Click the Format menu and hover over “Number” (or click the 123 number format icon in the toolbar).
  3. Select Custom number format….
  4. Search in the menu text box to select a format. You can also add your own custom number format into the text box.
  5. Click Apply.

Seems simple enough, but I don't have a Custom number format when I click on the 123 number format icon, or go to Format->Number.

I do have Custom Decimals, but that only allows you to specify the number of decimals. In my case, I want a custom format that involves the percent symbol, e.g., 0.001234 is rendered as 0.1234%.

I also have More formats and More currencies, but neither of those have Custom number format, nor anything that looks like what I want.

number formatting options

  • 1
    I am seeing the same as you. This would appear to be a case where the Google documentation has not kept up with the functionality of the app. (This isn't the first time I've seen this.) For the moment, I don't see a way to do what you want.
    – ale
    Dec 16 '13 at 18:32
  • Well that's a bummer. It also seems to suggest that they offered this functionality, and then removed it (but haven't updated the docs yet).
    – Josh
    Dec 16 '13 at 20:32
  • Thank you for posting this. I discovered the same thing. I left feedback to let them know.
    – B Seven
    Jan 1 '14 at 23:44

This option is only available in the "new Google Sheets".

In the new Google Sheets, you can apply custom formatting for currencies, dates, and numbers.

cf https://support.google.com/drive/answer/56470?hl=en

To activate the new Google Sheets, you can follow those instructions: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/3541068

  • I didn't pick up on the fact that the "new Google Sheets" really is new. I guess I read that and figured it was old language.
    – Josh
    Jan 30 '14 at 21:26
  • Also, I see that there is currently no way to "convert" existing spreadsheets (aside from manually copy/pasting each sheet). Looking forward to that feature!
    – Josh
    Jan 30 '14 at 21:26
  • Indeed, it doesn't seem possible for now. "All previously created spreadsheets will remain in the old version of Google Sheets for now." cf support.google.com/drive/answer/3544847
    – Yom
    Feb 6 '14 at 5:31

click in a cell > Go to Format > Number > More Formats > Custom Number Format > type in exactly: (###) ###-#### then when you type a phone number in that cell like 1234567890 it should automatically format to (123) 456-7890. Hope this helps.

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