Excel Tutorial: How To Change Time Format In Excel


When working with time data in Excel, it is essential to ensure that the time format is accurately displayed to avoid any confusion or errors in your analysis. Whether it's converting military time to standard time, or simply adjusting the way time is presented, knowing how to change the time format in Excel can improve the readability and usability of your spreadsheets. However, time formatting in Excel can sometimes lead to common issues such as incorrect display or calculation of time values, which can be frustrating to deal with.

Key Takeaways

  • Accurately displaying time format in Excel is crucial for avoiding errors in analysis.
  • Common issues related to time formatting in Excel include incorrect display or calculation of time values.
  • Understanding default and custom time formats, as well as using functions for time format conversion, can greatly enhance the usability of spreadsheets.
  • Choosing the right time format and following best practices for entering time data can improve the readability and usability of Excel spreadsheets.
  • Practicing changing time format in Excel is important for better data management and analysis.

Understanding Time Format in Excel

When working with time values in Excel, it's important to understand the default time format, the different time formats available, and examples of common time formats used in business and personal use.

A. Explain the default time format in Excel
  • Time as a Serial Number

    In Excel, time is represented as a decimal number where the integer part represents the number of days since December 31, 1899, and the decimal part represents the fraction of a day. For example, 12:00 PM is represented as 0.5 because it is halfway through the day.

B. Discuss the different time formats available in Excel
  • Custom Time Formats

    Excel offers a variety of custom time formats that allow users to display time values in different ways. These formats can include hours, minutes, seconds, and additional text or symbols.

  • 24-Hour Time Format

    Excel also supports the 24-hour time format, which is commonly used in military, aviation, and some international contexts.

C. Provide examples of common time formats used in business and personal use
  • Standard Time Format (e.g., 12:00 PM)

    This is the most commonly used time format in everyday life and business settings.

  • 24-Hour Time Format (e.g., 15:00)

    This format is often used in military, aviation, and international contexts for consistency and clarity.

  • Custom Time Formats (e.g., h:mm AM/PM)

    Custom time formats allow users to display time values in a variety of ways, such as including or excluding seconds, displaying AM/PM indicators, or using a 24-hour clock.

Changing Time Format Using Format Cells

When working with time data in Excel, it's important to ensure that the time format is displayed correctly to accurately represent the information. The Format Cells option in Excel provides a simple way to change the time format to suit your specific needs.

Walk through the steps to change time format using the Format Cells option

To change the time format in Excel, follow these steps:

  • Select the cell or range of cells containing the time data that you want to format.
  • Right-click on the selected cells and choose "Format Cells" from the context menu.
  • In the Format Cells dialog box, navigate to the Number tab and select "Time" from the Category list.
  • Choose the desired time format from the Type list and click "OK" to apply the changes.

Highlight the different options available within the Format Cells dialog box

The Format Cells dialog box offers a variety of time format options to choose from, including:

  • 24-hour time format (e.g., 13:30)
  • 12-hour time format with AM/PM indicator (e.g., 1:30 PM)
  • Custom time formats for specific display requirements

Additionally, the dialog box allows you to customize the appearance of the time data by adjusting the font, border, and alignment settings as needed.

Provide tips for choosing the right time format for specific data sets

When selecting the time format for your data sets, consider the following tips:

  • Ensure that the chosen time format accurately represents the time data without any ambiguity.
  • Choose a format that aligns with the preferences of your audience or stakeholders, such as using a 24-hour format for international audiences.
  • Take into account any calculations or comparisons that will be performed with the time data and select a format that supports these operations.
  • Consider the overall visual presentation of the time data within the context of your Excel spreadsheet and choose a format that enhances readability.

By following these steps and tips, you can effectively change the time format in Excel to best suit your specific data requirements.

Using Custom Time Format in Excel

When working with time data in Excel, it's important to be able to display it in the format that best suits your needs. One way to do this is by using custom time formats.

  • A. Explain the option of creating a custom time format in Excel
  • Excel offers the flexibility to create custom time formats, allowing you to display time data in a way that is meaningful for your specific use case. This can be especially useful when dealing with different time zones, durations, or specific time-related calculations.

  • B. Discuss the syntax for creating custom time formats
  • The syntax for creating custom time formats in Excel involves using a combination of placeholders for hours, minutes, and seconds, along with any desired separators or text. For example, "h" represents hours, "m" represents minutes, and "s" represents seconds. These placeholders can be combined with literal text and special characters to create the desired format.

  • C. Provide examples of when custom time formats are useful
  • Custom time formats can be useful in a variety of scenarios. For instance, when working with data that includes both date and time information, custom time formats can help to display the time portion in a consistent and understandable way. Additionally, when performing time-based calculations such as tracking project durations or analyzing time intervals, custom time formats can make the data more accessible and easy to interpret.

Converting Time Format Using Functions

When working with time in Excel, it's important to be able to convert time formats to better suit your needs. One way to do this is by using functions such as TIMEVALUE and TEXT.

  • Introduce the TIMEVALUE and TEXT functions for converting time format
  • These two functions are essential for converting time formats in Excel. The TIMEVALUE function converts a time in the form of text to a serial number that Excel recognizes as a time. On the other hand, the TEXT function converts a value to text in a specific number format.

  • Explain how to use these functions with examples
  • To use the TIMEVALUE function, you simply input the time in text format as the argument. For example, =TIMEVALUE("13:30:00") would return 0.5625, which is the serial number for 1:30 PM. As for the TEXT function, you input the cell reference of the time value as one argument, and the desired time format as the other. For instance, =TEXT(A2, "h:mm AM/PM") would return 1:30 PM if A2 contains the value 13:30:00.

  • Highlight the advantages of using functions for time format conversion
  • Using functions like TIMEVALUE and TEXT provides a more efficient and accurate way of converting time formats in Excel. It allows for flexibility in customizing the time format to better suit your needs and makes it easier to automate the process for large sets of data.

Tips for Formatting Time Data

When working with time data in Excel, it’s important to follow best practices and be aware of potential issues that may arise. Here are some tips for formatting time data effectively:

A. Discuss best practices for entering time data in Excel
  • Use consistent formatting: When entering time data, ensure that you use a consistent format throughout your spreadsheet. This will make it easier to perform calculations and analyze the data.
  • Use the TIME function: Instead of entering time data manually, consider using the TIME function in Excel to input time values. This can help to prevent errors and ensure accuracy.
  • Utilize 24-hour format: Consider using the 24-hour clock format (also known as military time) for entering time data, as this can minimize confusion and improve data consistency.

B. Provide tips for dealing with common issues such as AM/PM format
  • Convert AM/PM to 24-hour format: If your time data is in AM/PM format, you can use the TEXT function in Excel to convert it to 24-hour format. This can make it easier to perform calculations and manipulate the data.
  • Use custom number format: Excel allows you to create custom number formats, including time formats. By customizing the time format, you can display time data in the way that best suits your needs.
  • Be mindful of time zone differences: If you are working with time data from different time zones, be sure to account for any differences when entering and formatting the data in Excel.

C. Address potential errors and how to troubleshoot time format issues
  • Check for data consistency: If you encounter errors or inconsistencies with time data, double-check the formatting and ensure that all entries follow the same pattern.
  • Use data validation: To prevent data entry errors, consider using data validation in Excel to restrict input to a specific time format. This can help to minimize formatting issues.
  • Check for hidden characters: Sometimes, time data may contain hidden characters or spaces that can affect formatting. Use the TRIM function in Excel to remove any extra characters and clean up the data.


In conclusion, time format in Excel is crucial for accurate data representation and analysis. By understanding how to change time format, users can manipulate data more effectively and make better-informed decisions. I encourage readers to practice changing time format in their own Excel spreadsheets to improve their data management skills. For further learning, there are numerous resources available online, including tutorials and forums, that can provide additional guidance on time format in Excel.

Excel Dashboard

ONLY $99

    Immediate Download

    MAC & PC Compatible

    Free Email Support

Related aticles