# Determining Differences Between Dates In Excel

by Jacky Chou
Updated on

## Key Takeaway:

• Excel Date functions are useful tools for calculating date differences in Excel workbooks, whether you need to determine the number of days, months, or years between two dates. Understanding and utilizing these functions can save you time and make your tasks easier.
• One of the simplest methods to calculate date differences in Excel is by using the simple subtraction function. This is particularly useful for determining the number of days between two dates, but may not be as precise for differences greater than a year or for more complex calculations.
• Formatting date differences in Excel can be important to accurately display the results. Custom formatting can be used to display the differences in years, months, and days, and converting date differences to numeric values can allow you to perform additional calculations and analyses on the results.

Are you trying to find the difference between two dates in Excel? Don’t worry, this article will guide you through the various methods to calculate the difference between two dates in Excel, so that you can quickly and accurately determine the amount of time between them.

## Methods to Calculate Date Differences in Excel

To figure out date differences in Excel, you need to know the methods. This section will help you calculate date differences using two sub-sections:

1. ‘Using Date Functions’
2. ‘Using Simple Subtraction’

Get the answers you need!

Image credits: chouprojects.com by David Woodhock

### Using Date Functions to Calculate Differences

To determine differences between dates in Excel, you can use date functions. These functions provide an efficient way to calculate the number of days, months or years between two dates.

1. Select a cell where you want to display the result.
2. Type equal sign (=) and open the function wizard by typing `datedif`
3. Enter the start date in ‘start_date’ argument
4. Enter the end date in ‘end_date’ argument
5. Select the unit of time (days, months, or years) you want to display in ‘unit’ argument
6. Click OK to get a numeric value displayed on your cell.

It is worth noting that some errors can occur when using date functions with certain types of data. For example, if the end date is earlier than the start date, an error may be generated. Also, dates before 1900 or after 9999 are not supported by some functions.

For more accurate results, consider adjusting your calculations based on calendar differences when working with international teams across different time zones. It is advisable to maintain consistency in format for all column values containing dates.

To sum up, using `datedif` function not only allows easy calculation of days, months and years but also supports agile collaboration. It makes sense to check for compatibility issues while working with large datasets so as not to generate mistaken results. Why settle for a calculator when Excel can do the math for you? Say goodbye to mental arithmetic, and hello to simple subtraction.

### Using Simple Subtraction to Calculate Differences

To calculate date differences in Excel, you can use a simple subtraction method. This involves subtracting the earlier date from the later date to get the difference in days, which can then be converted to months or years if desired.

Here is a 3-step guide on how to use simple subtraction to calculate differences between dates:

1. Select the cell where you want the result to appear.
2. Type an equal sign (=) followed by the later date cell’s reference.
3. Subtract the earlier date cell’s reference using a minus sign (-).

It’s essential to note that dates should always be entered into cells using the format “dd/mm/yyyy” for this formula to work correctly.

While this method seems straightforward, it is vital to ensure that both dates are formatted correctly and entered into adjacent cells. Otherwise, errors may occur when performing calculations.

Remember that calculating date differences using Excel makes your life easier and saves time in performing manual calculations.

Excel may be good at calculating dates, but it still can’t figure out why you’re still single on Valentine’s Day.

## Formatting Date Differences in Excel

Ease up on formatting and displaying date differences in Excel? Just check out our section! It has two sub-sections – ‘Using Custom Formatting to Display Date Differences‘ and ‘Converting Date Differences to Numeric Values‘. Easy-peasy!

Image credits: chouprojects.com by Adam Jones

### Using Custom Formatting to Display Date Differences

To effectively present date differences in Excel, it’s essential to know how to use custom formatting. With this technique, you can display the variance between two dates in an easy-to-understand way that suits your preferences and needs.

Here’s a quick 5-step guide to using custom formatting to display date differences:

1. Select the cells containing the dates you want to compare.
2. Click “Ctrl + 1” or right-click and select “Format Cells.”
3. Go to the “Number” tab and choose “Custom” from the category list.
4. In the type field, enter “[h]:mm:ss” for time-based results or “d” for day-based results.
5. Click OK, and your cells will now show the difference between your selected dates in either hours/minutes/seconds or days.

Keep in mind that custom formatting limitations are regarding a span of 9999 days so if you have dates outside this range, custom formatting options may not work effectively.

In addition to determining date differences with custom formatting, you can also use it to manipulate date fields for aesthetic purposes. It enables Excel users to personalize their spreadsheets’ data presentations without any modification of spreadsheet values.

Incorporating these formats skillfully into Excel sheets is an excellent method of making tables more attractive. Understanding how to perform vital tasks like this updates your fundamental productivity advantages. Make sure you don’t fall behind; execute what we shared here today on your spreadsheet workbooks!

Don’t miss out on potentially increasing your productivity by frequenting our blog pages regularly!

Let’s put those date differences in numerical terms, because sometimes words just don’t do justice.

### Converting Date Differences to Numeric Values

Converting the date differences into numeric values can help you make calculations and compare various data more efficiently. Follow these simple steps to convert a date difference to a numeric value:

1. Subtract the previous date from the current date
2. Format the result as a number using the Excel “General” format
3. To get the total number of days, multiply the result by 1
4. You can now apply this formula to any other date difference you want to convert.

Keep in mind that this method only works if you subtract the earlier date from the later one. Additionally, make sure that you are consistent with your formatting and use the same format for all dates.

Pro Tip: To ensure consistency, use Excel’s built-in functions like DATEDIF or NETWORKDAYS.INTL, which automatically calculate differences between two dates and return them as numbers.

## Some Facts About Determining Differences Between Dates in Excel:

• ✅ Excel has built-in functions such as DATEDIF and YEARFRAC to help calculate the difference between dates. (Source: Excel Easy)
• ✅ DATEDIF calculates the difference between two dates in a variety of units, such as days, months, and years. (Source: Microsoft)
• ✅ YEARFRAC calculates the number of years between two dates, including partial years as decimals. (Source: Exceljet)
• ✅ When formatting cells to display differences between dates, the “d” represents days, “m” represents months, and “y” represents years. (Source: Excel Campus)
• ✅ The order in which dates are subtracted can affect the result of the calculation, as well as the use of leap years and different calendar systems. (Source: Exceljet)

## FAQs about Determining Differences Between Dates In Excel

### What is the easiest way of determining differences between dates in Excel?

The easiest way of determining differences between dates in Excel is by subtracting the two dates. This will provide you with the difference in days between the two dates. By using the DATEDIF function, you can calculate differences in months, years, and more.

### Can Excel calculate differences between dates and times?

Yes, Excel can calculate differences between dates and times. To do this, you simply subtract the start date/time from the end date/time. The result will be in Excel’s standard decimal format, but you can format the cell to display the result as a time or duration.

### Is there a way to automatically calculate differences between dates in Excel?

Yes, you can use the DATEDIF function in Excel to automatically calculate differences between two dates. The syntax for this function is: =DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, unit). The “unit” argument can be “d” for days, “m” for months, or “y” for years.

### What should I do if Excel returns a #NUM! error when trying to calculate differences between dates?

If Excel returns a #NUM! error when trying to calculate differences between dates, it is likely due to the start date being after the end date. To fix this, simply switch the order of the start and end dates in your formula.

### Can I calculate differences between dates excluding weekends?

Yes, you can calculate the difference between two dates excluding weekends in Excel. To do this, you can use the NETWORKDAYS function, which calculates the number of working days between two dates.

### How do I display the difference between dates in a specific format in Excel?

To display the difference between dates in a specific format in Excel, you can use the TEXT function. The syntax for this function is: =TEXT(value, format_text). The “value” argument is the cell with your calculated difference, and the “format_text” argument specifies how you want the result to be displayed. For example, if you want the result to be displayed as “1 year, 2 months, 15 days”, you would use the format_text argument “yy” for years, “mm” for months, and “dd” for days.

Auther name

Jacky Chou is an electrical engineer turned marketer. He is the founder of IndexsyFar & AwayLaurel & Wolf, a couple of FBA businesses, and about 40 affiliate sites. He is a proud native of Vancouver, BC, who has been featured on Entrepreneur.comForbesOberlo, and GoDaddy.