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: Converting Coded Dates into Real Dates.

Converting Coded Dates into Real Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2013)

Luis receives dates in the format "04A09" where the first two digits are the day, the letter in the middle is the month (A is January, B is February, C is March, etc.), and the last two digits are the year. He needs to transform these coded dates into regular date values that he can work with in Excel.

The biggest thing that makes this date format non-standard is the use of the alphabetic character for the month. So, the first thing to do is to figure out how to convert that character into a numeric month. This is where the CODE function can be helpful; it returns the ASCII code for the character. The letter A returns the value 65, B returns 66, and so on. So, all you need to do to convert the letters into the numbers 1 through 12 is to use something like this:

=CODE(UPPER(MID(A1,3,1)))-64

The UPPER function is used to convert the month character to uppercase, just in case the code allows lowercase letters for months.

Another way of converting the months is to use the FIND function, in this manner:

=FIND(UPPER(MID(A1,3,1)),"ABCDEFGHIJKL",1)

This technique finds the character within the alphabetic string and returns the offset within that string, 1 through 12.

Either method of converting the months can then be used inside a DATE function to return a date based upon a year, month, and day. This example uses the CODE method, but you could just as easily use the FIND method:

=DATE(2000+RIGHT(A1,2),CODE(UPPER(MID(A1,3,1)))-64,LEFT(A1,2))

If there is the possibility that the coded dates could include some dates prior to 2000, then using the DATEVALUE function to put together the date will produce more accurate results:

=DATEVALUE(CODE(UPPER(MID(A1,3,1)))-64&"/"&LEFT(A1,2)&"/"&RIGHT(A1,2))

If you use the DATEVALUE approach, understand that the formula returns a date serial number and that you will need to format the cell to display the date as you would like it displayed.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7163) 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: Converting Coded Dates into Real 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. ...

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