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Converting Time Notation to Decimal Notation

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Converting Time Notation to Decimal Notation.

Excel internally stores date and time values as floating-point numbers. The portion of the number to the left of the decimal point represents days elapsed since either January 1, 1900 or 1904 (depending on how your copy of Excel is configured). The portion of the number to the right of the decimal point represents the portion of a full day represented by the date and time.

Knowing this, you can easily convert a number from its time notation to its decimal equivalent. For instance, if you have an elapsed time value that represents 8:30, you can easily convert it to 8.5 (eight and a half hours) by multiplying the time value by 24.

To give another example, let's say that you have a beginning time in cell A3 and an ending time in cell B3. In cell C3 you place the following formula:

=B3 - A3

The result in cell C3 is the elapsed time, which is the difference between the beginning and ending times. In cell D3 you could then place the following formula:

= C3 * 24

The result in D3 is a decimal representation of the number of hours in cell C3. You can format the cell as you would any other number value so that it displays the number of decimal places desired. If you prefer to limit the number of decimal places in the result, right off the bat, you could instead use the following formula in cell D3:

=ROUNDUP(C3 * 24, 1)

This formula multiples C3 by 24 to convert to a decimal value, but then rounds the result to a single decimal place.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2052) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Converting Time Notation to Decimal Notation.

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Comments for this tip:

Michael (Micky) Avidan    28 Jul 2014, 13:56
To my opinion & experience the only reason for converting Time into Decimals raises when wages calculations are needed.
99% of Excel users present time as hh:mm and not hh.mm
So, the multiplication by 24 is a part(!) of a cost formula and not a stand-alone calculation.
By the way: =C3-B3 is can only be used while C3>B3.
Some people work Night-Shifts - for example: 20:00->02:00
In such a case C3-B3 will present an error (######## = Negative time).
The appropriate formula is: =MOD(C3-B3,1)
Thanks for your attention,
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)
awyatt    29 Apr 2013, 15:27

Make sure you format cell D3 to a non-time format. For instance, format it as 'General' and you should see 3.75 in the cell, which is correct.

Katherine Kerr    29 Apr 2013, 15:22
This formula doesn't work when I try it. When I calculate =C3 *24, where C3 contains the time difference result, as instructed in the example above, the result is incorrect.
My example:
A3: 9:00:00 AM
B3: 12:45:00 PM
C3: =B3-A3, displaying 3:45
D3: =C3*24, displaying 18:00
Anne    02 Nov 2012, 11:51
Thank you so much! This was so simple but I spend quite a long time figuring out how to convert my sampling points (date and time) into hours. This trick made it easy :)
Tuuli    21 Jul 2012, 15:32
Thank you. This was very helpful. I have been trying to figure out how to customize a timesheet to record partial hours and this tip worked. I ended up adding the *24 at the end of the formula counting the time worked to automatically convert the result to decimals and didn't have to add a column.

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