public class DecimalFormat extends NumberFormat

DecimalFormat is a concrete subclass of NumberFormat that formats decimal numbers. It has a variety of features designed to make it possible to parse and format numbers in any locale, including support for Western, Arabic, and Indic digits. It also supports different kinds of numbers, including integers (123), fixed-point numbers (123.4), scientific notation (1.23E4), percentages (12%), and currency amounts ($123). All of these can be localized.

To obtain a NumberFormat for a specific locale, including the default locale, call one of NumberFormat's factory methods, such as getInstance(). In general, do not call the DecimalFormat constructors directly, since the NumberFormat factory methods may return subclasses other than DecimalFormat. If you need to customize the format object, do something like this:

 NumberFormat f = NumberFormat.getInstance(loc);
 if (f instanceof DecimalFormat) {
     ((DecimalFormat) f).setDecimalSeparatorAlwaysShown(true);

A DecimalFormat comprises a pattern and a set of symbols. The pattern may be set directly using applyPattern(), or indirectly using the API methods. The symbols are stored in a DecimalFormatSymbols object. When using the NumberFormat factory methods, the pattern and symbols are read from localized ResourceBundles.


DecimalFormat patterns have the following syntax:
         PositivePattern ; NegativePattern
         Prefixopt Number Suffixopt
         Prefixopt Number Suffixopt
         any Unicode characters except \uFFFE, \uFFFF, and special characters
         any Unicode characters except \uFFFE, \uFFFF, and special characters
         Integer Exponentopt
         Integer . Fraction Exponentopt
         # Integer
         # , Integer
         0 MinimumInteger
         0 , MinimumInteger
         MinimumFractionopt OptionalFractionopt
         0 MinimumFractionopt
         # OptionalFractionopt
         E MinimumExponent
         0 MinimumExponentopt

A DecimalFormat pattern contains a positive and negative subpattern, for example, "#,##0.00;(#,##0.00)". Each subpattern has a prefix, numeric part, and suffix. The negative subpattern is optional; if absent, then the positive subpattern prefixed with the localized minus sign ('-' in most locales) is used as the negative subpattern. That is, "0.00" alone is equivalent to "0.00;-0.00". If there is an explicit negative subpattern, it serves only to specify the negative prefix and suffix; the number of digits, minimal digits, and other characteristics are all the same as the positive pattern. That means that "#,##0.0#;(#)" produces precisely the same behavior as "#,##0.0#;(#,##0.0#)".

The prefixes, suffixes, and various symbols used for infinity, digits, thousands separators, decimal separators, etc. may be set to arbitrary values, and they will appear properly during formatting. However, care must be taken that the symbols and strings do not conflict, or parsing will be unreliable. For example, either the positive and negative prefixes or the suffixes must be distinct for DecimalFormat.parse() to be able to distinguish positive from negative values. (If they are identical, then DecimalFormat will behave as if no negative subpattern was specified.) Another example is that the decimal separator and thousands separator should be distinct characters, or parsing will be impossible.

The grouping separator is commonly used for thousands, but in some countries it separates ten-thousands. The grouping size is a constant number of digits between the grouping characters, such as 3 for 100,000,000 or 4 for 1,0000,0000. If you supply a pattern with multiple grouping characters, the interval between the last one and the end of the integer is the one that is used. So "#,##,###,####" == "######,####" == "##,####,####".

Special Pattern Characters

Many characters in a pattern are taken literally; they are matched during parsing and output unchanged during formatting. Special characters, on the other hand, stand for other characters, strings, or classes of characters. They must be quoted, unless noted otherwise, if they are to appear in the prefix or suffix as literals.

The characters listed here are used in non-localized patterns. Localized patterns use the corresponding characters taken from this formatter's DecimalFormatSymbols object instead, and these characters lose their special status. Two exceptions are the currency sign and quote, which are not localized.

Symbol Location Localized? Meaning
0 Number Yes Digit
# Number Yes Digit, zero shows as absent
. Number Yes Decimal separator or monetary decimal separator
- Number Yes Minus sign
, Number Yes Grouping separator
E Number Yes Separates mantissa and exponent in scientific notation. Need not be quoted in prefix or suffix.
; Subpattern boundary Yes Separates positive and negative subpatterns
% Prefix or suffix Yes Multiply by 100 and show as percentage
\u2030 Prefix or suffix Yes Multiply by 1000 and show as per mille value
¤ (\u00A4) Prefix or suffix No Currency sign, replaced by currency symbol. If doubled, replaced by international currency symbol. If present in a pattern, the monetary decimal separator is used instead of the decimal separator.
' Prefix or suffix No Used to quote special characters in a prefix or suffix, for example, "'#'#" formats 123 to "#123". To create a single quote itself, use two in a row: "# o''clock".

Scientific Notation

Numbers in scientific notation are expressed as the product of a mantissa and a power of ten, for example, 1234 can be expressed as 1.234 x 10^3. The mantissa is often in the range 1.0 ≤ x < 10.0, but it need not be. DecimalFormat can be instructed to format and parse scientific notation only via a pattern; there is currently no factory method that creates a scientific notation format. In a pattern, the exponent character immediately followed by one or more digit characters indicates scientific notation. Example: "0.###E0" formats the number 1234 as "1.234E3".

  • The number of digit characters after the exponent character gives the minimum exponent digit count. There is no maximum. Negative exponents are formatted using the localized minus sign, not the prefix and suffix from the pattern. This allows patterns such as "0.###E0 m/s".
  • The minimum and maximum number of integer digits are interpreted together:
    • If the maximum number of integer digits is greater than their minimum number and greater than 1, it forces the exponent to be a multiple of the maximum number of integer digits, and the minimum number of integer digits to be interpreted as 1. The most common use of this is to generate engineering notation, in which the exponent is a multiple of three, e.g., "##0.#####E0". Using this pattern, the number 12345 formats to "12.345E3", and 123456 formats to "123.456E3".
    • Otherwise, the minimum number of integer digits is achieved by adjusting the exponent. Example: 0.00123 formatted with "00.###E0" yields "12.3E-4".
  • The number of significant digits in the mantissa is the sum of the minimum integer and maximum fraction digits, and is unaffected by the maximum integer digits. For example, 12345 formatted with "##0.##E0" is "12.3E3". To show all digits, set the significant digits count to zero. The number of significant digits does not affect parsing.
  • Exponential patterns may not contain grouping separators.


DecimalFormat provides rounding modes defined in RoundingMode for formatting. By default, it uses RoundingMode.HALF_EVEN.


For formatting, DecimalFormat uses the ten consecutive characters starting with the localized zero digit defined in the DecimalFormatSymbols object as digits. For parsing, these digits as well as all Unicode decimal digits, as defined by Character.digit, are recognized.

Special Values

NaN is formatted as a string, which typically has a single character \uFFFD. This string is determined by the DecimalFormatSymbols object. This is the only value for which the prefixes and suffixes are not used.

Infinity is formatted as a string, which typically has a single character \u221E, with the positive or negative prefixes and suffixes applied. The infinity string is determined by the DecimalFormatSymbols object.

Negative zero ("-0") parses to

  • BigDecimal(0) if isParseBigDecimal() is true,
  • Long(0) if isParseBigDecimal() is false and isParseIntegerOnly() is true,
  • Double(-0.0) if both isParseBigDecimal() and isParseIntegerOnly() are false.


Decimal formats are generally not synchronized. It is recommended to create separate format instances for each thread. If multiple threads access a format concurrently, it must be synchronized externally.


<strong>// Print out a number using the localized number, integer, currency,
 // and percent format for each locale</strong>
 Locale[] locales = NumberFormat.getAvailableLocales();
 double myNumber = -1234.56;
 NumberFormat form;
 for (int j = 0; j < 4; ++j) {
     for (int i = 0; i < locales.length; ++i) {
         if (locales[i].getCountry().length() == 0) {
            continue; // Skip language-only locales
         switch (j) {
         case 0:
             form = NumberFormat.getInstance(locales[i]); break;
         case 1:
             form = NumberFormat.getIntegerInstance(locales[i]); break;
         case 2:
             form = NumberFormat.getCurrencyInstance(locales[i]); break;
             form = NumberFormat.getPercentInstance(locales[i]); break;
         if (form instanceof DecimalFormat) {
             System.out.print(": " + ((DecimalFormat) form).toPattern());
         System.out.print(" -> " + form.format(myNumber));
         try {
             System.out.println(" -> " + form.parse(form.format(myNumber)));
         } catch (ParseException e) {}

Inherited Constant Summary

Public Constructor Summary

Creates a DecimalFormat using the default pattern and symbols for the default FORMAT locale.
DecimalFormat(String pattern)
Creates a DecimalFormat using the given pattern and the symbols for the default FORMAT locale.
DecimalFormat(String pattern, DecimalFormatSymbols symbols)
Creates a DecimalFormat using the given pattern and symbols.

Public Method Summary

applyLocalizedPattern(String pattern)
Apply the given pattern to this Format object.
applyPattern(String pattern)
Apply the given pattern to this Format object.
Standard override; no change in semantics.
equals(Object obj)
Overrides equals
final StringBuffer
format(Object number, StringBuffer toAppendTo, FieldPosition pos)
Formats a number and appends the resulting text to the given string buffer.
format(double number, StringBuffer result, FieldPosition fieldPosition)
Formats a double to produce a string.
format(long number, StringBuffer result, FieldPosition fieldPosition)
Format a long to produce a string.
formatToCharacterIterator(Object obj)
Formats an Object producing an AttributedCharacterIterator.
Gets the currency used by this decimal format when formatting currency values.
Returns a copy of the decimal format symbols, which is generally not changed by the programmer or user.
Return the grouping size.
Gets the maximum number of digits allowed in the fraction portion of a number.
Gets the maximum number of digits allowed in the integer portion of a number.
Gets the minimum number of digits allowed in the fraction portion of a number.