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Dates with Periods

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: Dates with Periods.

Lee prefers a date format that uses periods, such as 9.29.11. He wonders if there is a way to create such a format and if that format can be set as the default date format used by Excel.

Defining the date format in Excel is easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select the range of cells you want to format.
  2. Right-click the range to display a Context menu, from which you should choose Format Cells. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Number tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. In the Category list, choose Custom.
  6. In the Type box enter "m.d.yy" (without the quote marks).
  7. Click OK.

That's it; you now have a format set to display dates you want. If you want the format to be the default for all dates, then you are going to have to make a change in the Regional Settings of Windows itself. (Excel draws its default from these settings.) The exact way you do this varies depending on the version of Windows you are using, but in general there is a choice in the Windows Control Panel that allows you to specify regional settings. All you need to do is modify those settings to reflect the date format you want to use. The change will affect not only the display of numbers in Excel, but in other Windows-compliant programs, as well.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3427) 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: Dates with Periods.

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