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: Unique Military Date Format.

Unique Military Date Format

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 16, 2014)

For some purposes, the military uses a variation of what is called a "Julian date" to record a specific date. This special date format consists of the year digits followed by the absolute day of the year. Thus, 9 July 2013 would end up as 13190. This shows the year (13, which is for 2013) followed by the 190th day of the year (July 9).

The military is not alone in its use of such dates. Some other industries also rely on this type of date format. Excel, however, doesn't rely on this type of format. Instead, it uses more common formatting for the display of dates, and its own serial number format for the internal storage of dates. If you need to work with the Julian dates (perhaps you are in the military), you may wonder if there is a way to format dates in this manner.

The short answer is that there is no native way to do it. The custom formatting capabilities of Excel don't allow you to indicate a way to display the day of the year. So this means that you must use a formula to return either a numeric value for the Julian date, or a text string that contains the Julian date.

If you want to return a text string containing the formatted date, then you can use a formula such as the following:

=RIGHT(YEAR(A1),2)&(A1-DATE(YEAR(A1),1,1)+1)

This formula assumes that cell A1 contains a regular Excel date. The first part of the formula (the part before the ampersand) returns the last digit of the year and the part after the ampersand subtracts the first day of the current year from the date being converted, and then adds 1 back to that date. The result is the ordinal day within the year.

If the day-of-the-year portion of the Julian date must always be three digits, then you need to modify the formula just a bit more. As written above, the formula will return 1, 2, or 3 digits for the last part of the formula. If it always needs to be 3, then use this, instead:

=RIGHT(YEAR(A1),2)&RIGHT("000"&(A1-DATE(YEAR(A1),1,1)+1),3)

If you prefer to have the formula return a number rather than a text string, you could enclose the entire formula within a VALUE function, or you could simply multiply the year digit by 1000 in the formula. Both approaches are shown here:

=VALUE(RIGHT(YEAR(A1),2)&RIGHT("000"&(A1-DATE(YEAR(A1),1,1)+1),3))
=RIGHT(YEAR(A1),1)*1000+(A1-DATE(YEAR(A1),1,1)+1)

You can also find information on working with Julian dates in Microsoft's Knowledge Base:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/214099

This article indicates it is for Excel 2000, but the formulas it presents work well in other versions of Excel as well. There is also additional information available on Chip Pearson's Web site:

http://www.cpearson.com/excel/jdates.htm

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3227) 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: Unique Military Date Format.

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

Importing Custom Lists

Custom lists are handy ways to enter recurring data in a worksheet. Here's how you can import your own custom lists from a ...

Discover More

Adding a Custom Format to those Offered by Excel

Adding a custom format to Excel is easy. Having that custom format appear in all your workbooks is a different story ...

Discover More

Moving Cell Borders when Sorting

Sort your data and you may be surprised at what Excel does to your formatting. (Some formatting may be moved in the sort and ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Calculating Weekend Dates

Do you look forward to the weekend? Well, you can use Excel to let you know when the next weekend begins. Here's how you can ...

Discover More

Alerts About Approaching Due Dates

You may use Excel to track due dates for a variety of purposes. As a due date approaches, you may want that fact drawn to ...

Discover More

Calculating the Last Day in a Week Number

Given a particular week number for a year, you may want to figure out the date of the last day in that week. There is no ...

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 six less than 6?

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.