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: Displaying Negative Times.

Displaying Negative Times

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 24, 2016)

1

Mike has a worksheet that contains some times. If he subtracts 6:33 from 6:21 he noticed that he doesn't get a negative elapsed time, as in -:12. Instead he gets ############# in the cell. Mike is wondering how he can display the negative time difference properly?

The easiest way to solve this problem is to just change the date system used by the workbook. This may sound goofy, but if you use a 1900 date system (which is the default for Windows versions of Excel), then you get the ############# in the cell. If, instead, you change to the 1904 date system (which is the default for Mac versions of Excel) then you'll see the correct negative elapsed time in your formula.

To change the date system, 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 1900 dating system is used; if it is selected, then the 1904 system is used.

If you prefer to not change the dating system used in the workbook (perhaps it may mess up some other date formulas you have in the worksheet), then the only thing you can do is to create a text-based version of the time differential using a formula such as the following:

=IF(B2-A2<0, "-" & TEXT(ABS(B2-A2),"hh:mm"), B2-A2)

If the difference between the two time values (in A2 and B2) is negative, then the formula concatenates a text value consisting of the minus sign and the absolute value of the difference between the times.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3514) 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: Displaying Negative Times.

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

Updating Multiple PivotTables at Once

PivotTables are a great way to process huge amounts of data and make sense of that data. If you have a number of PivotTables ...

Discover More

Limiting Number of Characters in a Cell

Need to limit the number of characters that can be entered into a cell? One easy way to do it is through the use of Data ...

Discover More

Copying a Slide

Need to copy an existing slide from one place to another? Presentation makes it easy to do using editing techniques you ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Adjusting Date Values by Keypress

Excel allows you to store dates in a cell. Wouldn't it be great if you could select a cell containing a date and then ...

Discover More

Converting an Unsupported Date Format

Excel makes it easy to import information created in other programs. Converting the imported data into something you can use ...

Discover More

Determining the Day of the Month

Want to figure out the day of the month represented by a particular date? You can use the Day function in VBA to get the ...

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 6 - 0?

2017-03-21 11:28:17

Meg

In trying to set up a chart for shift work,
A1 = the time in (i.e.,7:30)
B1 = lunch break (i.e., 1:00)
C1 = shift ends (i.e., 16:30)
D1 = total time worked is 8:00
E1 needs to indicate how many hours was overtime, if any, and
F1 needs to indicate how many hours was under worked, if any.

Please help!


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.