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 an Input Mask.

Using an Input Mask

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 23, 2013)

6

When inputting time into a cell, it is easy to enter digits—that's what the numeric keypad is for, after all. What can really slow you down is the necessity to enter other characters, particularly ones that require the use of the Shift key. For instance, if you are entering times, it is easy to enter 230 for 2:30, but it is a pain to slow down by entering the colon.

Thus, you may wonder if there is a way to set up an input mask that will add the colon automatically. The good news is yes, there is. The bad news is no, there isn't. Sound confusing? Let me explain...

You can set up a custom format that will display your time in any format you want. For instance, you could use the following steps:

  1. Select the cells you want to use for time input.
  2. Choose Format from the Cells menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Number tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. In the Category list, choose Custom.
  6. Replace whatever is in the Type box with #":"00 (a pound sign, quote mark, colon, quote mark, and two zeros).
  7. Click on OK.

You can now enter your times using just digits. The problem (and this is the bad news) is that the cell doesn't really contain a time. If you enter 230 (for 2:30), it doesn't contain 2:30 as a time—it contains two hundred and thirty. Thus, you can't use the contents of the cell directly in time calculations.

To overcome this, you can use another column to show the entered digits converted into a time. All you need to do is use a formula to do the conversions. For instance, if the time you entered was in cell A3, you could use the following formula in a different cell to do the conversion:

=(INT(A3/100)/24)+((A3 - (INT(A3/100)*100))/1440)

Format the cell that contains the above formula so it displays one of the various time formats, and you are all set.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2746) 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 an Input Mask.

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

Understanding the Clipboard

You can use the Windows Clipboard to move information around in Word. To make the most of the Clipboard, it is helpful to ...

Discover More

Discovering Printer Drift

How accurate is your printer when it comes to placing information on the printed page? The simple technique described in this ...

Discover More

Deleting All Names but a Few

Want to get rid of most of the names defined in your workbook? You can either delete them one by one or use the handy macro ...

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)

Pasting Multiple Paragraphs Into a Single Cell

Copying information from one program (such as Word) to another (such as Excel) is a common occurrence. If you want to paste ...

Discover More

Reference Shortcut

Need to modify how a cell reference, in a formula, is constructed? The shortcut described in this tip will help you step ...

Discover More

Quickly Selecting Cells

Need to quickly select a range of cells? Perhaps the easiest way is to use both the mouse and the keyboard together, as ...

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. 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 minus 8?

2017-07-10 17:30:52

Julie

Doesn't work for me in Excel 2016. I put #":"00 and the time entry is always :## (e.g., I enter 11:30 and it puts in :11) I even tried add 2 more 00, like this: #00":"00 thinking it was missing the front half of the format, but that produced the same results.

I could really use this if I could get it to work.


2016-03-18 08:03:36

Merinda

Please help me. I need to add data validation rule that a person can only enter our ordernumber "AA000000" (2 alphanumeric and 6 numeric - no special characters or spacing allowed). What will be the formula (or edit mask) for this?


2014-12-03 12:39:58

Rose Taylor

I am trying to do an input mask to format a number if it is 7 digits long. If its seven digits long I want the number to appear as #####-##, but if ifs 5 digits long I just want it to look like #####. How do I do this with an input mask or should I use an IF statement for that cell?


2014-02-13 07:03:03

Fcaetus

Thanks


2013-02-24 19:12:08

Joze

I am sorry, there is an error in my formula: the right expression is:
=timevalue(text(a3;"00:00"))


2013-02-23 09:53:08

Joze

Nice solution. You get the same result if you use a formula =TIMEVALUE(TEXT(A3;"000")). But in this case, if you want to sum time data you have to format cell in which the result should be as "[h]mm:ss". Am I right?


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.