Excel Tutorial for Arguments Separators

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Excel functions use a character to separate arguments to distinguish between each of them. In this Excel tutorial you will always notice that the arguments of the functions are separated by a comma (,). But maybe your computer is configured to use semicolons (;) especially if you are in European countries.


Difference between lists separators


This difference is due to the Windows regional settings, which is where the separator list that is used in all installed applications is specified. Lets see the settings that I have in my computer. I must go to the Control Panel and within the “Region and Language” section select the option Date and Time Formats. (more about lists and how to get the most out in Excel)


Windows Regional and Language Settings List Separators


Note that the selected Format in my computer is in English (United States). When you click in the Additional settings… button we are going to find the parameters. Those are the parameters that are established for different formats. One of them is the List Separators.


List Separators Additional Format Settings


Excel takes this configuration of Windows to separate the arguments of the functions. For that reason you will observe that in my examples of functions the comma (,) is always shown. This difference occurs mainly with European countries where the semicolon (;) is used as a list separator. Whereas in Latin American and North America countries the comma (,) is used.


So, if you follow this website from a country that use the semicolon as separator of lists you should be aware of this difference that you will find in the posts. In the same way, it is possible that you are in Latin America but if the computer where you are working has the regional configuration for Europe you will also observe this difference in Excel.


Other differences about Symbols


Because Excel is an application where we use many numbers, the regional configurations of the computer will also make us differences. That occurs in terms of the character used as a decimal symbol and the thousands separation symbol.


In my configuration, which is English (United States), the period (.) Is used as a decimal symbol and the comma (,) as the separation symbol of thousands. For a Spanish (Spain) configuration these characters will be inverted while for some Latin American countries they will be similar.

However, these two types of separators can be modified within Excel if we wish. To make this change you must go to the File tab and click on Options. Then select Advanced and in the Edit Options section you will see the option Use system separators.


Excel Tutorial Advanced Options


If the check box is checked, Excel will use the Windows options, but if you uncheck the option you can specify the character of your preference.

I hope these regional differences in our computers do not cause any confusion in the articles. In addition, I recommend you that always remember the regional settings that my computer has with which I write the articles of this Web site.

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