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Finding the Previous Work Day

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: Finding the Previous Work Day.

Joe wonders how to return the date of the previous work day, taking into account any holidays. He needs to be able to get this information for any particular date.

Excel has a number of functions and formulas that help automate obtaining routine information. The Analysis ToolPak add-on contains formulas that can help with these automations. One is the WORKDAY function.

Assuming you have the Analysis ToolPak enabled (how you do so has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips), you can obtain the date information you need by using the following formula:


The first part of this formula, A1, refers to the cell where the reference date is located. This information can be obtained in a couple of different ways. You can manually enter the date into cell A1 or you could use a formula in that cell to signify the date. For instance, you could use the following simple formula in cell A1 so that it always contains today's date:


The second part of the formula, -1, says to subtract one day from the date in A1. The third part of the formula, MyHolidays, refers to a named range containing a list of dates and holidays you want skipped in determining the previous workday.

The WORKDAY function returns the date of day previous to the date entered in A1, allowing for any holidays.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8104) 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: Finding the Previous Work Day.

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Comments for this tip:

BryanW    18 May 2015, 11:18
@stan try this:


I use a slightly modified one that moves the day to Monday if the day in question falls on a Sunday.

mike    28 Jan 2015, 16:50
Stan wanted the previous workday , only if the current day is a weekend or holdiday. the above solution doesn't give the same day as requitred for mon to fri.

this should work

workday(current date +1, -1, myholidays)
Stan Lieberman    08 Apr 2014, 12:02
Micky - 0) Thank you for responding
1) Weenend days are Saturday and Sunday
2) Holiday dates are in a worksheet named "Holidays" in the same workbook where I want to create the formula.
3) If the date in cell A1 is not a weekend or holiday I want the result to be the same date that is already in cell A1. (As further explanation, I have a rule that says, "If the due date is on a weekend or holiday the due date changes to the last workday before the original due date").
Thank you for your help.
Stan - Los Angeles, CA - USA
Michael (Micky) Avidan    08 Apr 2014, 07:01
@Stan,1) What R the Weekend day(s) in your region ?
2) where did U put the Holiday(s) date(s) ?
3) If the date, in cell A1, is not a weekend - what do you expect as a result ?
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2014)

Stan Lieberman    07 Apr 2014, 13:01
I'm looking for a formula that will give me the previous workday ONLY IF THE DATE (in cell A1) FALLS ON A WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY (HOLIDAY AS DEFINED BY ME). Is there a way to do this?
Thank you.

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