Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 6: Working with Dates and Times
Entering dates
You can enter a date directly as a serial number (if you know it), but more often, you’ll enter a
date using any of several recognized date formats. Excel automatically converts your entry into
the corresponding date serial number (which it uses for calculations) and also applies a date
format to the cell so that it displays as an easily readable date rather than a cryptic serial number.
For example, if you need to enter June 18, 2010, you can simply enter the date by typing June 18,
2010 (or use any of several different date formats). Excel interprets your entry and stores the
value 40347, which is the date serial number for that date. Excel also applies one of several date
formats depending on how the date is originally entered, so the cell contents may not appear
exactly as you typed them.
Depending on your regional settings, entering a date in a format such as June 18, 2010
may be interpreted as a text string. In such a case, you would need to enter the date in
a format that corresponds to your regional settings, such as 18 June, 2010.
When you activate a cell that contains a date, the Formula bar shows the cell contents formatted
using the default date format — which corresponds to your system’s short date style. The
Formula bar does not display the date’s serial number — which is inconsistent with other types of
number formatting. If you need to find out the serial number for a particular date, format the cell
by using the General format.
To change the default date format, you need to change a system-wide setting. Access
the Windows Control Panel and choose Regional and Language Options. Then click the
Customize button to display the Customize Regional Options dialog box. Select the
Date tab. The selected item for the Short date style format determines the default date
format used by Excel.
Table 6-1 shows a sampling of the date formats that Excel recognizes (using the U.S. settings).
Results will vary if you use a different regional setting.
Table 6-1: Date Entry Formats Recognized by Excel
Entry
Excel’s Interpretation (U.S. Settings)
What Excel Displays
6-18-10
June 18, 2010
Windows short date
6-18-2010
June 18, 2010
Windows short date
6/18/10
June 18, 2010
Windows short date
6/18/2010
June 18, 2010
Windows short date
6-18/10
June 18, 2010
Windows short date
June 18, 2010
June 18, 2010
18-Jun-10
Jun 18
June 18 of the current year
18-Jun
June 18
June 18 of the current year
18-Jun
continued
 
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