The best way I can come up with to say "show me this fraction as a decimal number to M places, don't use scientific notation" is:


It seems like that's an awful lot of typing for a very simple request.

Is it possible to say it more concisely?

  • $\begingroup$ I think that is the canonical way, but that doesn't mean there isn't something more terse. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 19:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't think you can avoid it altogether. But if you find yourself doing it a lot, you can always use SetOptions... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ I can't use any of these values to plot becasue their Head changes to NumberForm and graphs don't understand this form. I need to plot and have the tooltip show decimal form, any suggested alterations to the above to make it work? $\endgroup$
    – lara
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 7:24

3 Answers 3


You can express any fraction/number to arbitrary decimal places by using a backtick followed by number of digits required. For example:

In[1]:= 4/3`20
Out[1]= 1.3333333333333333333

This is the same as N[4/3, 20]. Now combine this with AccountingForm, which never uses scientific notation to get the output that you desire.

Out[2]//AccountingForm= 0.0000010020030040050060070080090100110120130140...

However, be aware that AccountingForm uses parentheses for negative numbers:

Out[3]//AccountingForm= (0.00000100200300400500600700800901001101201301401501601....

Daniel Lichtblau has a good point that although using `instead of N might be shorter in this case, in general, it might not give the same result — for example, compare the digits of Log[2`50] and N[Log[2],50]. You'll see that they differ in the last couple of digits. However, for small use cases, the difference might be insignificant.

  • $\begingroup$ I also thought of AccountingForm (and RealDigits), but I think the negative numbers are an issue. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard Yes, but I also noticed that it uses () for negative numbers, which could be used to distinguish if one were to use this only for quick visual checking $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ I am voting for this since I think AccountingForm comes closest. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 21:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Might just use N[...,m]. Check difference between Log[2`20] and N[Log[2],20]. The former will lose a digit. (Might not be important for the purposes at hand, though.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 0:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Of course those Log calculations give different answers. The former is Log[(2 with 50 digit precision)], the latter is (Log[2] with 50 digit precision). Taking Log[2`50] and Log[N[2,50]] gives exactly the same answer. $\endgroup$
    – Jacob Bond
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 21:15

You could always set $Post to have this happen automatically.

format[x_Real] := NumberForm[x, ExponentFunction -> (Null &)];
format[x_] := x;
$Post = format;


N[1/998001, 50]



Even better, $Post is applied at display time, thus


returns Real.


This post got many upvotes now. But no one mentioned DecimalForm which is introduced in ver 11.2, 2017

DecimalForm[N[1/998001, 2994]]

gives exactly what you need.


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