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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 25, 2014)

3

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

Decimal Tab Alignment

If you are familiar with decimal tabs in Word, you may wonder if you can set the same sort of alignment in Excel. The ...

Discover More

Making Language Changes Apply to Text in Footnotes and Text Boxes

Word allows you to modify the language associated with the text in your document. How you modify the language can affect ...

Discover More

Summing When the First Character Matches a Value

Summing data is a common need in Excel. Summing lots of data based on a condition that needs to be met can be a bit more ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Moving Custom Formats to Number Formatting Categories

Moving your custom formats into a formatting category other than "custom" isn't something you can do in Excel. Here's ...

Discover More

Formatting Raw Data

When you get a bunch of raw data into Excel from an external source, it isn't going to be formatted to your liking. The ...

Discover More

Using Strikethrough Formatting

Need a line through the middle of your text? Use strikethrough formatting, which is easy to apply using the Format Cells ...

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}] 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 9 - 7?

2016-06-22 09:39:30

lennie

want to change excel date 01/10/2014 to 1/10/14 on the whole spreed sheet at on time not to go to each one to change have 20 sheets that could be reduced to 10. was able to do some time ago but no longer tried the painting function that doesn't work any more either.


2015-04-25 05:21:23

Barry

@Fernando

This is the subject of another Tip:

http://excel.tips.net/T003116_Recording_a_Data_Entry_Time.html


2015-04-24 19:56:00

Fernando marquez

When I enter info into a cell, it gives me the date (today) in a different cell:
=IF(ISBLANK(CELL),""today())
However I need the date to remain the same instead of changing daily
Thanks


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.