Format numbers as dates or times

When you type a date or time in a cell, it appears in a default date and time format. This default format is based on the regional date and time settings that are specified in Control Panel, and changes when you adjust those settings in Control Panel. You can display numbers in several other date and time formats, most of which are not affected by Control Panel settings.

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Display numbers as dates or times

You can format dates and times as you type. For example, if you type 2/2 in a cell, Excel automatically interprets this as a date and displays 2-Feb in the cell. If this isn't what you want—for example, if you would rather show February 2, 2009 or 2/2/09 in the cell—you can choose a different date format in the Format Cells dialog box, as explained in the following procedure. Similarly, if you type 9:30 a or 9:30 p in a cell, Excel will interpret this as a time and display 9:30 AM or 9:30 PM. Again, you can customize the way the time appears in the Format Cells dialog box.

  1. Select the cells that you want to format.

ShowHow to select cells, ranges, rows, or columns

To select Do this
A single cell Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

Callout 1 Row heading
Callout 2 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner) Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.


  1. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Dialog Box Launcher next to Number.

Ribbon Image

 Tip   You can also press CTRL+1 to open the Format Cells dialog box.

  1. In the Category list, click Date or Time.

Format Cells dialog box

  1. In the Type list, click the date or time format that you want to use.

 Note   Date and time formats that begin with an asterisk (*) respond to changes in regional date and time settings that are specified in Control Panel. Formats without an asterisk are not affected by Control Panel settings.

  1. To display dates and times in the format of other languages, click the language setting that you want in the Locale (location) box.

Locale box selected in Format Cells dialog box

The number in the active cell of the selection on the worksheet appears in the Sample box so that you can preview the number formatting options that you selected.

Sample box selected in Format Cells dialog box

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Create a custom date or time format

  1. Select the cell or range (range: Two or more cells on a sheet. The cells in a range can be adjacent or nonadjacent.) of cells that you want to format.

ShowHow to select a cell or a range

To select Do this
A single cell Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

Callout 1 Row heading
Callout 2 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner) Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.


  1. On the Home tab, click the Dialog Box Launcher next to Number.

Ribbon Image

 Tip   You can also press CTRL+1 to open the Format Cells dialog box.

  1. In the Category box, click Date or Time, and then choose the number format that is closest in style to the one you want to create. (When creating custom number formats, it's easier to start from an existing format than it is to start from scratch.)
  2. In the Category box, click Custom. In the Type box, you should see the format code matching the date or time format you selected in the step 3. The built-in date or time format can't be changed or deleted, so don't worry about overwriting it.
  3. In the Type box, make the necessary changes to the format. You can use any of the codes in the following tables:

Days, months, and years    

To display Use this code
Months as 1–12 m
Months as 01–12 mm
Months as Jan–Dec mmm
Months as January–December mmmm
Months as the first letter of the month mmmmm
Days as 1–31 d
Days as 01–31 dd
Days as Sun–Sat ddd
Days as Sunday–Saturday dddd
Years as 00–99 yy
Years as 1900–9999 yyyy

If you use "m" immediately after the "h" or "hh" code or immediately before the "ss" code, Excel displays minutes instead of the month.

Hours, minutes, and seconds

To display Use this code
Hours as 0–23 h
Hours as 00–23 hh
Minutes as 0–59 m
Minutes as 00–59 mm
Seconds as 0–59 s
Seconds as 00–59 ss
Hours as 4 AM h AM/PM
Time as 4:36 PM h:mm AM/PM
Time as 4:36:03 P h:mm:ss A/P
Elapsed time in hours; for example, 25.02 [h]:mm
Elapsed time in minutes; for example, 63:46 [mm]:ss
Elapsed time in seconds [ss]
Fractions of a second h:mm:ss.00

AM and PM     If the format contains an AM or PM, the hour is based on the 12-hour clock, where "AM" or "A" indicates times from midnight until noon and "PM" or "P" indicates times from noon until midnight. Otherwise, the hour is based on the 24-hour clock. The "m" or "mm" code must appear immediately after the "h" or "hh" code or immediately before the "ss" code; otherwise, Excel displays the month instead of minutes.


Creating custom number formats can be tricky if you haven't done it before. For more information about how to create custom number formats, see Create or delete a custom number format.

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Tips for displaying dates or times

  • To quickly use the default date or time format, click the cell that contains the date or time, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+# or CTRL+SHIFT+@.
  • If a cell displays ##### after you apply date or time formatting to it, the cell probably isn't wide enough to display the data. To expand the column width, double-click the right boundary of the column containing the cells. This automatically resizes the column to fit the number. You can also drag the right boundary until the columns are the size you want.
  • When you try to undo a date or time format by selecting General in the Category list, Excel displays a number code. When you enter a date or time again, Excel displays the default date or time format. To enter a specific date or time format, such as January 2010, you can format it as text by selecting Text in the Category list.
  • To quickly enter the current date in your worksheet, select any empty cell, and then press CTRL+; (semicolon), and then press ENTER, if necessary. To insert a date that will update to the current date each time you reopen a worksheet or recalculate a formula, type =TODAY() in an empty cell, and then press ENTER.
 
 
Applies to:
Excel 2010