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Converting European Dates to US Dates

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 European Dates to US Dates.

Linda asked if there is a formula that will convert a date shown in the European fashion of day/month/year to the US version of month/date/year. Truth be told, this may not be necessary. You see, Excel maintains dates, internally, as numeric values and then simply displays them using various formats. If the dates are truly dates—numeric values—in the worksheet, then you can simply change the format and the dates will be displayed in the way common to the US.

Of course, the date you see in a worksheet could be a text value, instead of a date value. You can test whether the date is really an Excel date or a text value by changing the format of the cell (or cells) to General. (Do this using the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.) If it is text, you'll see no change in the display. If it is a date value, the date should change to a number that represents the number of days since whatever base date your system is using (typically January 1, 1900).

If your dates are truly date values, then simply change the format of the cell (or cells) to whatever date format you want to use. Again, this is done using the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

If your dates are text values, then you will need to convert them to true date values (non-text) so that they can be formatted as just described. You can do this by using a formula to do the conversion. If you have a text date in cell A1 in the format dd/mm/yyyy, then you can use the following formula:

=DATE(VALUE(RIGHT(A1,4)), VALUE(MID(A1,4,2)), VALUE(LEFT(A1,2)))

The result of this formula is a date serial number that is recognized and can be formatted by Excel.

Of course, it is possible that you have a bunch of mixed dates in your worksheet. Consider the following list of dates:

1/1/11
2/1/11
3/1/11
4/1/11
5/1/11
6/1/11
7/1/11
8/1/11
9/1/11
10/1/11
11/1/11
12/1/11
13/1/11
14/1/11
15/1/11
16/1/11
17/1/11

If these are entered into a worksheet, the first twelve dates (1/1/11 through 12/1/11) are parsed by Excel as January 1, 2011, through December 1, 2011. The next five dates are parsed as text since Excel doesn't, by default, recognize that the dates are in d/m/y format. If you have a bunch of dates like this, you can quickly convert them to real dates without the use of any formulas. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select all the cells containing the dates—both the date values and the text values.
  2. Start the Text to Columns wizard. (Choose Text to Columns from the Data menu.) (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The first screen of the Text to Columns wizard.

  4. Choose Fixed Width and click Next to proceed to step 2 of the wizard.
  5. If you see any column break indicators in the dialog box, get rid of them by double-clicking on them. You don't want any such indicators because you don't want Excel to think you have static breaking places for your data.
  6. When all the column break indictors are gone, click Next to proceed to step 3 of the wizard.
  7. In the Column Data Format section of the dialog, click the Date radio button.
  8. Using the date format drop-down list, choose DMY.
  9. Click Finish.

That's it; your data is converted, in place, to the date values that Excel can work with.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3309) 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 European Dates to US Dates.

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Comments for this tip:

Bill G.    25 Sep 2014, 15:49
What a simple and elegant solution to a problem that was driving me nuts.
Thank you so much
James Moore    04 Sep 2014, 11:59
Brilliant!
Kurt    10 Jun 2014, 12:38
Thank you

I was messing around with importing English dates from CSV file using "format cells - date function" I would have never thought to use "text to columns"

It worked
Eric    13 Aug 2013, 10:40
Simple and effective, thanks!
Randy    28 May 2013, 13:22
Thanks so much for the tip! I'm sifting through Salesforce data imports and you have saved me hours.
Barry Fitzpatrick    12 Nov 2012, 05:24
Kabongo,
If the dates ate already in "date" format then the value will be an Excel date serial number, in which case you need set the display format. To do this select the cells (or column) containing the dates, select format cells (or Ctrl+1), [change the "Locale" will give you different formats. If on your PC one of the standard date formats is not the one you want, then select "Custom" in the Category list, and enter "mm/dd/yy" in the "Type" box, then "OK".

If the entered dates are actually text, then you need to use a modified version of the formaula given in the tip. The only issue you might have is the century as yy could be 19yy or 20yy (or other). Excel will default to using this century. If some are in the last century then you'll have to decide on a rule and test for this accordingly. E.g. if yy>50 then the date is the last century.
kabongo    11 Nov 2012, 21:31
I have imported data which has dd/mm/yy format. However, my PC uses the mm/dd/yy format.
Owing to the large volume of the data which have dates in the dd/mm/yy format, how can i convert them mm/dd/yy without doing so manually. I urgently need to use the information but can't do so in the above format as my excel would read the dates differently.
The strings are in date format already
Popenheim    10 Nov 2012, 07:15
Very useful tip
I downloaded 28000 rows with date, time and pH in cvs file type. In notepad I converted the cvs to txt format and opend this in Excel2007. I then separated the date choosing the / as separator as well as other separtors. All colums were defined as text. This done, the txt file was converted.

Then with the above mentioned formular i concaternated and produced the date serial number. The time was produced in similar manner (23:21) transformed to =Time((Value(Left(F2;2)));(value(Right(F2;2)));)
The whole exercise rest on keeping the original data in text format and working the data into the proper date:time formates.
JUAN    10 Jun 2012, 00:51
Thanks a lot for the tip, the formula works excellent!
I tried to use the Text to column feature but some dates are still text, what am I doing wrong?
Kelly Carbon    21 May 2012, 16:09
Thank you for the extremely helpful tip. I work in SAP and this is going to save me hours of time sorting through data. Great job!

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