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Working with Minutes

Some people use Excel to help keep track of elapsed time. This may sound like a rather esoteric use of Excel, but it is not, really. For instance, you may develop a timesheet. You enter a starting time in a cell, an ending time in another cell, and then calculate the elapsed time between the two by simply subtracting the starting time from the ending time.

If you use Excel in this way, you may have a need to display your results in just minutes, with no hours showing. You can do this in one of two ways. The first is to simply format the cell containing the aggregate of your elapsed times. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell in which you want your result displayed as minutes.
  2. Choose Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Number tab is displayed.
  4. In the Category list (left side) choose Custom. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. In the Type box, enter the format as [mm], which consists of a left and right square bracket with two lowercase ms in the middle.
  7. Click on OK.

Your cell now contains only elapsed minutes. This is great for displaying results, but you may actually want a cell to literally contain a number representing the number of elapsed minutes. This need brings us to the second solution: simply multiply the aggregation cell by 1440 and format the result as a regular number (not as a date or time). This effectively takes a value out of the special date/time format maintained by Excel and puts it back into the realm of regular numbers.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2820) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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