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HP Graphing Calculators - Calculator Display Questions

Introduction
This document addresses display questions for the HP 38g, 48g+, 48gx, and the 49g calculators.
Calculator symbol key
The procedures in this document use the following text to represent symbol keys:
Key
Description
Text Representation
colored key; shift key
SHIFT
Right shift key
RS
Left-shift key
LS
Move cursor left
cursor-left
Move cursor right
cursor-right
Move cursor up
cursor-up
Move cursor down
cursor-down
Changing the number of decimal places the calculator displays
HP 38g calculator
Press SHIFT then, MODES to enter the input form, then the cursor-down key to highlight the "Number format" field. Press CHOOS, then use the arrow keys to select the desired format. If Fixed, Scientific, Engineering, or Fraction is selected, a number indicating the number of displayed digits will appear to the right of the "Number format" field; simply arrow to this number and type in the desired amount (up to 11).
HP 48gx and/or HP 48g+ calculators
The display mode controls how the HP 48 calculator displays numbers.
 note:
Numbers can be displayed differently than they are stored.
Regardless of the display mode, numbers are always stored as signed, 12 digit mantissas with signed, 3 digit exponents.
The HP 48 calculator has four display modes:
  • Standard mode (Std): Displays numbers using full precision. All significant digits to the right of the decimal point are shown, up to 12 digits.
  • Fix mode (Fix): Displays numbers rounded to a specified number of decimal places. Real numbers on the stack are displayed with digit separators (separating digits into groups of three), commas (if a period is used as a decimal point), or periods (if a comma is used as the decimal point).
  • Scientific mode (Sci): Displays a number as a mantissa (with one digit to the left of the decimal point and a specified number of decimal places) and an exponent.
  • Engineering mode (Eng): Displays a number as a mantissa with a specified number of digits, followed by an exponent that is a multiple of 3.
To set the display mode:
  • Press RS (arrow), then MODES.
  • Highlight the NUMBER FORMAT: field.
  • Press CHOOS. (Or, press [+/-] repeatedly to cycle through the fixed list of options, and stop when the desired choice appears in the field.).
  • Select a number format and press OK.
  • If the format is Fix, Sci, or ENG, press SWAP, type the number of display digits and press ENTER.
  • Press OK.
HP 49g calculator
Press MODE and change the Number Format field to Fixed, then choose from 0 to 11 decimal places and press ENTER. The default mode is standard (Std), where only the number of decimal places necessary for the result are displayed.
Determining what "E" in a number (for example, 2.51E-13) means
HP 38g calculator
The "E" stands for exponent of ten. In the example 2.51E3, the number is 2.51 × 10³, which equals 2510.
HP 48gx and/or HP 48g+ calculators
Exponent of 10 (for example 2.51 x 10-13). To key in a number as a mantissa and an exponent:
  1. Key in the mantissa. If it is negative, press [+/-] to change its sign.
  2. Press EEX. (It types an E for "exponent.")
  3. Key in the exponent - the power of 10. If it is negative, press [+/-].
See also the HP 48g calculator information concerning setting the Display mode in response to "Changing the number of decimal places the calculator displays" above.
Adjusting the contrast on the display (HP 48gx, 48g+, 49g calculators)
Hold down ON and tap + to darken the contrast. Hold down ON and tap [ - ] to lighten the contrast.
Determining what "object" means (HP 48gx and/or 48g+ calculators)
Object is the general term for all elements of data with which the HP 48 calculator works. Numbers, expressions, arrays, programs, and so on, are all types of objects. An object is analogous to a file on a PC (or MAC).
Determining what the three dots (...) mean at either end of the display line (HP 48gx and/or HP 48g+ calculators)
The three dots (called an ellipsis) indicate that the displayed object is too long to display on one line. To view the rest of the object on the command line, use the cursor-left or cursor-right keys; in a data field, press EDIT; on the stack, press LS, then EDIT.
Determining what > or ... mean at the end of a display line (HP 49g calculator)
It means the displayed object is too long to display on one line.
Determining why some numbers have decimal points, while others do not (HP 49g calculator)
On the HP 49G calculator, there are two distinct types of numbers: real and integer. Only real numbers are displayed with a decimal point. Integers offer a larger range than real numbers. For example, it is possible to calculate 100, a 158-digit integer.
Determining why changing the angle mode does not affect a vector's display (HP 49g calculator)
Since a converted display could require non-integer values, changing the angle mode affects the display only of real-valued, not integer-valued, vectors.

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