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: Using Early Dates.

Using Early Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 3, 2017)

1

There are three basic types of information that can be stored in a cell: numeric values, strings (text), and dates. In reality, dates are nothing more than numeric values, with the number being stored representing the number of days (and partial days for the time portion of a date) since January 1, 1900. This is a quick, handy way for Excel to store dates.

What happens, however, if you are doing genealogical or historical work and you need to keep track of dates that are earlier than 1/1/1900? There are essentially three ways you can approach this problem.

First, you can split up your dates. You could, for instance, include three columns for each date: one for day, one for month, and one for year. This, of course, will not allow you to change display formats for different date notations, but it will allow you to sort (using the column contents) as you desire, and to do rudimentary math on the dates. This approach to early dates can be the easiest to implement.

Another option is to use your own date notation for entering dates. For instance, if you wanted to enter the date for April 25, 1885, you could enter it as 18850425. This would be treated as a numeric value by Excel, which means you could do math based on the numbers. Because the notation has the year first, you could easily sort dates according to need. The only drawback to this method is that you cannot use Excel's date formatting, and you must get used to the notational syntax.

Finally, you can either create your own macros to work with out-of-range dates, or you can use a third-party solution. One such solution is found at John Walkenbach's site:

http://j-walk.com/ss/excel/files/xdate.htm

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2382) 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: Using Early Dates.

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

Appending to a Non-Document Text File

Your macros can easily add information to the end of an existing text file. This is done by opening the target file in ...

Discover More

Finding the Path to the Desktop

Figuring out where Windows places certain items (such as the user's desktop) can be a bit frustrating. Fortunately, there ...

Discover More

Last-Row Border Formatting

When the last row displayed on a page doesn't show the borders you want, it can be confusing to figure out how to get ...

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)

Quickly Entering Dates and Times

Excel provides keyboard shortcuts for a variety of purposes. This tip examines two such shortcuts, designed to allow ...

Discover More

Modifying Default Year for Dates

When entering dates into a worksheet, you may want the dates to default to last year instead of this year. Here's a way ...

Discover More

Inserting Symbols

Using the Character Map to insert symbols in Excel.

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 eight less than 8?

2017-01-03 10:59:00

TomD

The link to J-walk's site didn't work for me.

Try
http://spreadsheetpage.com/index.php/tip/extended_date_functions/

Enjoy reading your tips... I appreciate your work

Best Regards


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.