Tech Tip: Field Formats for Number, Date, and Time Fields
By: Connie Anderson
It’s often useful for administrators to be able to customize the way that information will be shown to users. For instance, the information in a “Price” field may be easier to interpret at a glance if the field uses a currency symbol (for instance, “$8.00” or “£8.00” instead of “8.00”) However, number fields can’t contain non-numeric symbols, and configuring the field as a text field instead could lead to issues both with invalid inputs and with sorting.
Instead, an administrator can keep the field as a number field, but use a field format to determine how it will be displayed to users. Unlike a field constraint, which restricts what a user can type into a field, field format does not affect how the information is stored, just how it is shown to users in the Metadata Pane or dialog box and in columns. In addition, users don’t have to remember to input information in the correct format—they can simply type the number or date, and the display will be handled for them.
Field formats can be used to configure the display for number, date, and time fields. Number fields can be displayed as a percentage, in scientific notation, or as a currency; date and time fields can be displayed as a long date/time or short date/time. (Long and short date/time settings are determined by the Windows regional settings on the client computer, or by the web browser’s regional settings for web clients.) You can also configure custom number or date/time formats to display the information in almost any way you want. Since field formats don’t affect the way that information is stored, only the way it’s displayed, they can easily be applied to existing fields without modifying their values.
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