How To Format A Date In Excel

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the syntax of date formatting is crucial for formatting dates in Excel. Dates can be formatted using a combination of specific characters and codes to represent different date formats.
  • Excel offers a wide range of pre-defined date formats that can be easily applied to cells. Select the range of cells to be formatted, choose the desired format, and apply the format to cells.
  • Customizing date formats in Excel allows for greater flexibility in formatting dates to display in a specific way. Creating custom date formats, applying them to cells, and troubleshooting common issues with custom formats can help improve data clarity and accessibility.

Struggling to format a date in Excel? You’re not alone! Let us help you make sense of the tricky formatting challenges that Excel can present, so you can efficiently manage and easily analyse your data.

A Beginner’s Guide to Formatting Dates in Excel

Want to format dates in Excel? Don’t know how? I’m here to guide you! We’ll start by understanding the syntax of date formatting. This’ll help us use the various date formatting techniques later. Next up, a look at common date formats. These include date and time, days of the week and month, and more! Ready? Let’s go!

Understanding the Syntax of Date Formatting

To understand the syntax of date formatting, follow these five steps:

  1. Pick the cells where you want to format dates.
  2. In the ‘Home’ tab, go to ‘Number’ > ‘More Number Formats’ in the ‘Number group’.
  3. Select the ‘Date’ category from the ‘Number Format’ dialogue box.
  4. Scroll and view the available formats. They are in brackets.
  5. Pick a format and click OK to apply it.

Did you know that different codes represent various parts of a date? For instance, “mm” is for two-digit month numbers (e.g., 01). “MMM” is for abbreviated month names (e.g., Jan), and “mmmm” is for full month names (e.g., January). Meanwhile, “yyyy” is for four-digit years and “yy” is for two-digit years (19 instead of 2019).

Pro Tip: You can also use custom formats beyond what Excel has. Although, this requires knowledge of how formats work and how Excel handles data types.

We hope you now have a better understanding of date formatting. This is important when preparing sophisticated spreadsheets that display data analysis results in a clear and effective way. The following section will offer an overview of common date formats.

An Overview of Common Date Formats

Click an empty cell and start typing a date. Separators like slashes ( / ), hyphens ( – ) or periods ( . ) must be included; this tells Excel it’s a date. Press Enter and Excel should format it for you. To view formatting options, press CTRL+1 simultaneously. Select “Number” tab, then “Date” from the category list. Select a preferred format from the Type list, and preview each format by clicking and selecting okay.

Be aware of date formats in different countries, which might affect how Excel reads them. Insert symbols before or after prewritten formats if you want to use other symbols instead of what Excel gives by default, or else they will be interpreted literally. Now let’s explore “How to Format a Date in Excel,” which is an essential step when working with dates in spreadsheets.

How to Format a Date in Excel

I’m an Excel lover so I know the value of properly formatting data, especially when it comes to dates.

Let’s take a look at how to format a date in Excel.

  1. First, you must pick the range of cells to be formatted. This is essential to make sure only the correct cells get changed.
  2. Secondly, you need to decide which date format type to use. There are many choices to tailor your data.
  3. Thirdly, you should apply the format to the cells. It’s a simple process that will make your data look attractive and easy to understand.

Follow these tips and you’ll soon be a pro at Excel date formatting.

Selecting the Range of Cells to be Formatted

To select the range of cells for formatting, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Excel worksheet and go to the sheet with your data.
  2. Click and drag your mouse over all the cells you want to include in your selection. Or, click on one cell and use keyboard shortcuts (e.g., Shift + Arrow keys).
  3. Release your mouse button.
  4. Look at the top-left corner and note the cell reference (e.g., A1:B5). This tells you which cells are selected.
  5. Adjust your selection as needed.

Keep in mind to group similar data together when selecting the range of cells. Also, make sure only the data you want included in formulas or sorting features is selected. Avoid extra rows or columns.

Fun fact: Over 750 million people worldwide use Excel.

Now, choose the date format for your cells.

Choosing the Date Format


Select the cell or range of cells containing the date value. Right-click and click “Format Cells” or go to “Home” tab, select “Number,” and click “More Number Formats.” In the Format Cells dialog box, under “Category,” pick “Date.” From the list of available formats, select one that fits your needs.

When selecting date format, keep in mind who will be using the Excel worksheet and what they expect. For instance, if it’s for an international audience, use a standard format like yyyy-mm-dd or dd/mm/yyyy. This way, there won’t be any confusion over day or month order.

Choosing an appropriate date format is key when dealing with large data sets. It helps ensure all dates are the same and easy to read. A clear and comprehensible format also aids in filtering data more quickly.

I once made a mistake while formatting dates in Excel. I had picked a custom date format without realizing it wouldn’t work with pivot tables. Thus, my pivot table calculations were wrong, leading to serious errors in financial reports.

Now that we have our date format, let’s learn about applying it to cells in the next heading ‘Applying the Format to Cells‘.

Applying the Format to Cells

Select your desired cells by click-dragging them. Right-click and choose “Format Cells” from the drop-down menu. Go to the “Number” tab in the Format Cells window. Select “Date” from the Category list. Pick a Date Format that suits your needs and click OK.

When you apply a format to the cells, the dates will display in that format. If you enter a date in a different format, errors or incorrect display may occur.

It’s vital to remember: applying a date format does not change how Excel stores dates. It only alters how they appear on the screen. You can customize the date format for more control over how dates show in Excel. You can change the order of day, month, and year or add text such as day names or abbreviations.

Fun fact: Excel stores dates as serial numbers. January 1st, 1900 is 1 while December 31st, 9999 is 2958465.

To learn more about Customizing Date Formats in Excel, read on!

Customizing Date Formats in Excel

Excel users know the importance of formatting data effectively. This section explores customizing dates in Excel. To suit your needs, creating custom date formats is simple, yet powerful. Applying these custom formats makes data easier to read and work with. Issues often arise when working with custom date formats. The next few paragraphs explain creating, applying, and troubleshooting them.

Creating Custom Date Formats

To make custom date forms:

  1. Pick the cells that have the dates you want to customize.
  2. Look in the “Home” tab for the “Number Format” section.
  3. Select the drop-down arrow button next to the section. Choose “More Number Formats” from the bottom.
  4. Choose a date form from Excel’s preset categories or make your own. Do this by picking a pre-existing format, modifying it, or starting fresh with special codes.

Using this feature helps you design a personalized date format that suits you better. For example, you can add ‘st’, ‘nd’, ‘rd’, or ‘th’ after every day number. This adds context to readers.

Customizing date formats also improves data entry. If your team works with global tasks done in different time zones, it’s better to have all timestamps in one time zone. This makes it compatible.

I used this tool a lot when I worked with dates in Excel. It helped me easily identify each column’s purpose when looking at different sheets. Plus, it saved me time and made calculations easier too.

Custom Date Formats must be applied once made. Otherwise, they won’t appear fully formatted when inputted into new cells. But, if you apply custom formats to all new data, you’ll save time in the long run and be more productive.

Applying Custom Date Formats

Select the cells or range of cells that contain dates that need formatting. Then, right-click on the selected area and choose “Format Cells”.

In the “Format Cells” dialog box, go to the “Number” tab. Choose “Custom” from the Category.

Type in your preferred date format in the Type field using codes. For example: MM/DD/YYYY for month/day/year or DD/MM/YYYY for day/month/year. You can also add time (hh:mm:ss), day of week (dddd), etc.

Preview your changes within this same dialog box. Then, click OK to save your customized date format.

Remember these steps when applying custom date formats. Take caution. Use an easily readable format. Too much customization may cause problems.

Use the “Wrap Text” command in different cell settings to fix “#######” alarms.

Troubleshoot common issues with custom formats swiftly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Custom Formats

Customizing date formats in Excel can be a real pain. Here’s a 3-step guide to help you fix the issue:

  1. Check the Format Code. Keep an eye out for any extra characters.
  2. Verify Locale Settings. Your country/region and language settings should be correct.
  3. Update Office. Newer versions may resolve any issues.

In addition, make sure to understand the syntax and structure of the format code. Even the smallest mistake, like typing an uppercase “M” instead of a lowercase “m”, can cause problems.

Want to learn more? Check out Date Calculations in Excel!

Date Calculations in Excel

Excel isn’t only about rows and columns! Date calculations are more useful than you might think – they track deadlines and analyze trends. In this section, let’s look at how to calculate days, months and years between dates in Excel. It can make life much easier when dealing with lots of data or planning a big project.

Calculating the Number of Days, Months, and Years Between Dates

Calculating the time between dates is crucial for many reasons. It can help with organization, upcoming events, and decision-making. To do this in Excel, check out these six easy steps:

  1. Select the cell you want the result to appear.
  2. Type =DATEDIF(
  3. Enter the first date in quotes (“5/15/2020”).
  4. Add a comma and then the second date in quotes (“6/30/2021”).
  5. Add another comma and type “d” for day, “m” for month, or “y” for year.
  6. Close off with a closing bracket.

Hit enter and the result will be displayed. Calculating dates is useful for events like weddings, birthdays, medical visits, and work meetings. It also minimizes chances of errors.

Keep in mind that leap year formulas apply when using the DATEDIF() function. YEAR(), MONTH(), and DAY() functions are better options.

Don’t miss out on organizing your schedule and avoiding errors – start calculating date differences in Excel now!

Five Facts About How to Format a Date in Excel:

  • ✅ Excel offers various pre-defined date formats such as “Short Date,” “Long Date,” “Time Format,” and “Custom Format.” (Source: Excel Easy)
  • ✅ To format a cell as a date in Excel, navigate to the “Home” tab, select the cell, click on the “Number Format” drop-down menu, and choose “Date.” (Source: Lifewire)
  • ✅ Excel stores dates as serial numbers, with January 1, 1900, as the starting point, and each subsequent day assigned a unique number. (Source: Microsoft Support)
  • ✅ To change the default date format in Excel, go to “File,” then “Options,” and under the “General” tab, select your preferred date format in the “When creating new workbooks” section. (Source: TechJunkie)
  • ✅ Using the “TEXT” function in Excel, you can create custom date formats such as “dd-mmm-yy” or “dddd, mmmm dd, yyyy.” (Source: Exceljet)

FAQs about How To Format A Date In Excel

How do I format a date in Excel?

To format a date in Excel, you need to select the cell or cells containing the dates that you want to format. Then, right-click on the selected cells and choose “Format Cells”. In the “Format Cells” dialog box, click on the “Number” tab and select “Date” from the category list. Finally, choose the date format that you want to use and click “OK”.

What are the different date formats available in Excel?

Excel offers a wide range of date formats, including “Short Date”, “Long Date”, “Time”, “Date and Time”, and many more. You can also create custom date formats using the available options in the “Format Cells” dialog box.

How do I change the default date format in Excel?

You can change the default date format in Excel by clicking on the “File” tab and selecting “Options”. Then, click on “Advanced” and scroll down to the “When calculating this workbook” section. Here, you can select the desired date format from the drop-down list under “Dates”. Once you have made your selection, click “OK” to save the changes.

Can I change the date format in a pivot table?

Yes, you can change the date format in a pivot table by selecting the field that contains the dates and clicking on the “Field Settings” button. In the “Value Field Settings” dialog box, click on the “Number Format” button and choose the date format that you want to use. Finally, click “OK” to apply the changes.

How do I use a formula to format a date in Excel?

To use a formula to format a date in Excel, you can use the TEXT function. The syntax for this function is as follows: =TEXT(date,format_text). Here, “date” refers to the cell containing the date that you want to format, and “format_text” is the format code for the desired date format. For example, to format a date as “MM/DD/YYYY”, you can use the formula =TEXT(A1,"MM/DD/YYYY").

Why is my date formatting not working in Excel?

If your date formatting is not working in Excel, it could be due to several reasons. One common issue is that Excel may be treating your dates as text instead of actual dates. To resolve this, you can try converting the text to dates using the DATEVALUE function. Another issue could be that the date format code you are using is incorrect. Double-check the code to ensure that it matches the desired date format.