Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Entering Excel Data
Entering Dates
Now let’s talk about dates. Excel does not handle
dates exactly the same as either labels or values.
Even though dates may contain text, dates also
have numbers that can be calculated, so they are
technically values. As such, dates are aligned
along the right cell border.
Entering Values
A value is any kind of numerical data, or data
that can be calculated using a formula. Excel
aligns values along the right cell border so that
the place value of the data is aligned. Think back
to grade school and remember that you learned
to line up your ones, tens, and hundreds places
to make adding easier. Excel does that for you.
In order to perform calculations on your dates,
behind the scenes Excel must assign a numerical
value to all dates. For instance, to Excel January
1, 1900, is assigned a value of 1, meaning that
Excel treats this as the first day. Excel handles
any date before January 1, 1900, as a label and
cannot perform calculations on such dates.
Caution
Unlike the way it handles labels that
are too long for the standard cell width,
Excel changes the appearance of the
number if the value you enter is longer
than 8.43 characters. Excel may display
a series of number signs (####), or it
may transform the number to scientific
notation to fit the available space. Your
data remains intact, but because it is
right-aligned in the cell, Excel cannot
extend the data beyond the cell’s left
border.
Although this internal calculation does not
affect the appearance of dates in your
spreadsheet, Excel does have 17 preset date formats, as
shown in Figure 1-13, that you can apply to your
worksheet. You will learn more about them in
Chapter 5, “Making the Worksheet Look Good.”
Tip
The following are significant dates in history as recognized by Excel’s internal date values.
Date Value
Calendar Date
Event
16,682
September 2, 1945
The end of World War II
27,945
July 4, 1976
America’s 200th birthday
36,526
January 1, 2000
Arguably, the beginning of the 21st century
 
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