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: Changing Excel's Starting Date.

Changing Excel's Starting Date

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Excel allows you to choose which arbitrary date you use as the beginning point for serial numbers. In the PC world, this date is January 1, 1900. If you are working with Excel workbooks imported from the Macintosh environment, however, you will want to set the starting date to January 2, 1904—the date used on the Mac.

To set which of these two dates is used, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Calculation tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Calculation tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. The 1904 Date System check box controls which dating system is used. If the check box is not selected, then the January 1, 1900 starting date is used; if it is selected, then January 2, 1904 is used.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2413) 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: Changing Excel's Starting Date.

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. ...

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