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: Understanding Date and Time Formatting Codes.

Understanding Date and Time Formatting Codes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 27, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


In Excel, dates and times are stored internally as numbers. These are only converted to legible dates and times when you format the cell using a date or time format. The following table lists the formatting codes that are specific to dates and times. You use these codes when you are creating a custom display format (Format | Cells | Number tab | Custom).

Symbol Meaning
m Displays the month or minutes as a number without a leading 0
mm Displays the month or minutes as a number with a leading 0
mmm Displays the month as abbreviated text (Jan, Feb, Mar, and so on)
mmmm Displays the month as text (January, February, March, and so on)
d Displays the day of the month as a number without a leading 0
dd Displays the day of the month as a number with a leading 0
ddd Displays the day of the week as abbreviated text (Sun, Mon, Tue, and so on)
dddd Displays the day of the week as text (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and so on)
yy Displays the year with two digits
yyyy Displays the year with four digits
h Displays the hour without a leading 0
hh Displays the hour with a leading 0
s Displays the seconds without a leading 0
ss Displays the seconds with a leading 0
[ ] When surrounding hours, minutes, or seconds place holders, displays hours greater than 24 or minutes and seconds greater than 60
AM am PM pm A a P p Uses a 12-hour clock, displaying AM or PM as specified
\ Forces display of the following character
. (period) The decimal point.
"text" Displays the text within the quotes.

To understand better the effect of the date and time codes, take a look at the following information, which shows several common date and time formats and how they affect numbers.

Category Format Value Displayed As
Date m/d/yy 34369 2/4/94
 d-mmm-yy 34409 16-Mar-94
Time h:mm AM/PM 0.654166667 3:42 PM
 [h]:mm:ss 2.592673611 62:13:27

Notice that the numbers shown in the value column of these examples are the internal values stored by Excel for dates and times.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2179) 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: Understanding Date and Time Formatting Codes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Reducing File Size

As you work with a workbook (particularly one that contains macros) you may notice that the workbook size can become ...

Discover More

Fill Color Doesn't Display

If you apply a fill color to a range of cells and notice that the color doesn't show up on the screen, it could be ...

Discover More

Changing the Axis and Gridline Default Color

When you want to change the defaults used for charts, a chart template is the way to go. This tip shows how easy it is to ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Unable to Format Cells

If you ever get to a situation where you can no longer format cells in a workbook, you'll realize just how important the ...

Discover More

Formatting Combo Box Text

If you insert objects, such as a combo box, in your worksheet, you may need a way to modify the font used in the object. ...

Discover More

Handling Negative Numbers in a Complex Custom Format

Custom formats are great for defining how a specific value in a cell should look. They aren't that great at doing complex ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five more than 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.