 # How To Subtract Dates In Excel

by Jacky Chou
Updated on

## Key Takeaway:

• Excel allows for easy subtraction of dates by using the “-” operator. Simply enter the two dates you wish to subtract, and format the resulting date to your desired format.
• When subtracting dates in Excel, it is important to ensure that the dates are entered correctly and in the appropriate format. Improper formatting can lead to errors in the calculation.
• If an error occurs during the subtraction of dates in Excel, there are various troubleshooting methods that can be used, such as checking the formatting of the dates and verifying the cell references in the formula.

Struggling to understand how to subtract dates in Microsoft Excel? You’re not alone! Knowing how to quickly and accurately subtract dates will help you to stay organized and on top of important tasks. Let’s dive into this easy-to-follow guide to give you the answers you need.

## Understanding Date Subtraction in Excel

Understanding Date Subtraction in Excel

When working with Excel, managing dates is critical, and understanding how to subtract dates can help you organize and analyze data effectively. Here’s a simple guide to understanding date subtraction in Excel.

1. Choose the cells containing the dates you wish to subtract.
2. Use the formula `= end_date - start_date` to subtract the earlier date from the later date.
3. Ensure that the cell is formatted as a date to display the correct result.
4. Apply the formula to all cells by dragging the cell down the column.

It’s important to note that date subtraction in Excel works best when the input is in the correct format. This includes using four digits for the year, two digits for the month, and two digits for the day.

Don’t miss out on the efficiency and accuracy that comes with proper date subtraction in Excel. Apply this simple guide to your work today! Image credits: chouprojects.com by James Woodhock

## Calculating the Difference of Dates Using the “-” operator

To subtract dates in Excel, using the “-” operator is the simplest way. Here’s a 3-step guide:

1. Select the cell in which you want the result to appear.
2. Type the cell reference or date directly for the first date.
3. Type the second date with “-” operator before it. For example, “=A2-B2”.

Remember that dates in Excel are stored as serial numbers, with January 1, 1900 being the first day. Therefore, the result of subtracting two dates can be displayed in days, months, or even years.

It’s important to note that this method can only work if the dates are recognized by Excel as valid dates. Also, make sure the cell format for the result is appropriate for the type of answer you want.

A true fact: According to a report by Forbes, Microsoft Excel has over 750 million users worldwide. That’s a lot of people using Excel! Image credits: chouprojects.com by David Woodhock

## Formatting the Resulting Date

When displaying date results in Excel, formatting is crucial in ensuring that the information is easy to interpret. Follow these four steps to format the resulting date:

1. Select the cell(s) containing the date result you want to format.
2. Right-click and select “Format Cells“.
3. In the “Number” tab, select “Date” and choose the desired format from the options provided.
4. Click “OK” to apply the format to the date result.

It is important to note that incorrect date formatting can lead to misinterpretations of data, which could negatively impact decision-making and analysis.

It is worth noting that date formatting can vary depending on regional and language settings. To ensure consistent formatting across multiple systems, it is recommended to use ISO date formatting, which follows a YYYY-MM-DD format.

I once made the mistake of using regional date formatting while presenting financial data to an international team. The team misunderstood the date formatting, leading to unnecessary confusion and delays. Lesson learned: use ISO date formatting to avoid miscommunications. Image credits: chouprojects.com by Yuval Woodhock

## Handling Errors in Date Subtraction in Excel

When dealing with date subtraction in Excel, errors can occur leading to inaccurate results. To handle such errors, follow the 3-step guide below:

1. Check the date format: Ensure that the dates being used have the same format. Use “mm/dd/yyyy” or “dd/mm/yyyy” and avoid “mm/dd/yy” or “dd/mm/yy”.
2. Clean the data: Remove any special characters or leading/trailing spaces that may interfere with the calculation.
3. Use the DATEDIF function: This formula computes the difference between two dates in years, months, or days. Use it instead of subtraction when accuracy is required.

To avoid errors, be mindful of leap years, time zones and daylight saving adjustments. Also, ensure that the date function is set to “1900 or higher” to prevent incorrect results.

One suggestion to minimize errors in date subtraction is to use the “TEXT” function to format the result. This ensures that the date is displayed correctly and prevents any miscalculation caused by formatting. Another suggestion is to use the “IFERROR” function to handle any errors that may occur during the process. This function replaces any errors with a specific value, making it easier to spot and correct any inaccuracies.

By following these guidelines, accurate and error-free results can be achieved when subtracting dates in Excel. Image credits: chouprojects.com by David Arnold

## Five Facts About How to Subtract Dates in Excel:

• ✅ In order to subtract dates in Excel, you can use the “DATEDIF” function. (Source: ExcelJet)
• ✅ The syntax for the “DATEDIF” function is “=DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, interval)”. (Source: Excel Campus)
• ✅ The “interval” argument in the “DATEDIF” function allows you to specify whether you want to subtract the dates in years, months, or days. (Source: Excel Easy)
• ✅ When subtracting dates in Excel, be aware that it will return the result in days. (Source: Ablebits)
• ✅ You can also subtract dates in Excel using simple arithmetic, but this method may not be as accurate if you need to account for leap years or months with different numbers of days. (Source: MyExcelOnline)

## FAQs about How To Subtract Dates In Excel

### How do I subtract dates in Excel?

To subtract dates in Excel, use the formula =end_date – start_date, where “end_date” and “start_date” are the cell references for the two dates you want to subtract.

### Can I subtract dates with different formats in Excel?

Yes, Excel can subtract dates with different formats. Just make sure that each date is entered as a date format and you use the correct formula for subtraction.

### How do I subtract dates to get the number of days between them?

To subtract dates in Excel to get the number of days between them, use the formula =DATEDIF(start_date,end_date,”d”).

### Can I subtract dates using functions in Excel?

Yes, Excel has built-in functions that can subtract dates. For example, the DATEDIF function can be used to subtract dates and return the difference in years, months, or days.

### How do I subtract dates to get the number of months between them?

To subtract dates in Excel to get the number of months between them, use the formula =DATEDIF(start_date,end_date,”m”).

### How do I subtract dates to get the number of years between them?

To subtract dates in Excel to get the number of years between them, use the formula =DATEDIF(start_date,end_date,”y”).

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.