What Is General Data Type in Excel?


Heather Bennett

General data type is one of the most commonly used data types in Excel. It is a versatile data type that can hold various types of information, such as numbers, text, dates, and more. In this article, we will explore what general data type is and how it can be used effectively in Excel.

What Is General Data Type?

General data type in Excel is a default data type that is assigned to cells when you enter data without specifying a specific format. When you enter a number, text, or any other information into a cell without applying any formatting options, Excel automatically assigns the general data type to that cell.

The general data type allows you to store different types of information within a single column or row. This flexibility makes it convenient for organizing and analyzing diverse sets of data.

Using General Data Type

When working with general data type in Excel, it is important to understand how it handles different types of information. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Numbers: When you enter numbers into cells with the general format, Excel treats them as numeric values. You can perform mathematical operations on these numbers and use them in formulas.
  • Text: If you enter text into cells with the general format, Excel treats them as text values.

    You can apply various text formatting options such as bold, italicize, underline, etc., to these cells.

  • Dates: When you enter dates into cells with the general format, Excel recognizes them as date values. You can apply date formatting options to these cells to display them in different date formats.

In addition to numbers, text, and dates, the general data type can also handle other types of information such as logical values (TRUE or FALSE), errors, and more.

Changing Data Type

If you have already entered data into a cell with the general format and later realize that it should have been formatted differently, you can easily change the data type. To do this:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells containing the data.
  2. Right-click on the selected cells and choose “Format Cells” from the context menu.
  3. In the Format Cells dialog box, select the desired data type (number, text, date, etc.) from the list of categories on the left.
  4. Choose a specific format for the selected data type if required.
  5. Click “OK” to apply the changes.

By changing the data type, you can ensure that Excel treats your data correctly and performs calculations or formatting based on your intended requirements.


The general data type in Excel is a versatile and flexible option for storing different types of information within a single column or row. It allows you to organize and analyze diverse sets of data effectively. Understanding how general data type handles different types of information is essential for accurate calculations and formatting in Excel.

So next time you work with Excel, make sure to leverage the power of general data type to make your spreadsheets more dynamic and efficient!

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