Excel Tutorial: How To Convert Date In Excel


Converting dates in Excel is an essential skill that can save you time and ensure accurate data analysis. Whether you need to change the date format for better visualization or perform calculations based on dates, knowing how to manipulate date formats in Excel is critical. Excel offers a variety of common date formats such as “mm/dd/yyyy,” “dd-mmm-yy,” and “yyyy-mm-dd” that are frequently used in financial, scientific, and business contexts.

Key Takeaways

  • Converting dates in Excel is essential for accurate data analysis
  • Excel offers common date formats such as mm/dd/yyyy and yyyy-mm-dd
  • Excel stores dates as serial numbers
  • DATE function, Text to Columns feature, CONCATENATE function, and custom formatting can all be used to convert dates in Excel
  • Practicing and mastering date conversion techniques in Excel is important for efficient data manipulation

Understanding Date Formats in Excel

When working with dates in Excel, it's important to understand the different date formats and how Excel stores dates as serial numbers.

Different date formats in Excel

  • mm/dd/yyyy: This is the default date format in Excel for U.S. users, where the month is displayed first, followed by the day and year.
  • dd/mm/yyyy: This format is commonly used in European countries, where the day is displayed first, followed by the month and year.
  • Custom date formats: Excel allows users to customize date formats based on their preferences, such as displaying the day of the week or using a different separator.

How Excel stores dates as serial numbers

  • Excel's date system: Excel stores dates as sequential serial numbers where January 1, 1900 is represented by the serial number 1, and each subsequent day is represented by an increment of 1.
  • Time as decimal: In Excel, dates and times are both stored as numbers, where the date is the integer part and the time is the decimal part of the number.
  • Calculations with dates: Understanding the serial number system allows for easy date calculations in Excel, such as adding or subtracting days from a date.

Using the DATE Function

The DATE function in Excel is a powerful tool that allows you to convert various date components, such as year, month, and day, into a single date value. This function is useful for organizing and manipulating dates within your Excel spreadsheets.

a. Explanation of the DATE function in Excel

The DATE function takes three arguments: year, month, and day, and returns a date value. The syntax for the DATE function is =DATE(year, month, day). The year argument is a four-digit number, the month argument is a number between 1 and 12, and the day argument is a number between 1 and 31.

b. Step-by-step guide on how to use the DATE function to convert dates

1. Open your Excel spreadsheet and select the cell where you want the converted date to appear.

2. Enter the following formula into the selected cell: =DATE(year, month, day), replacing "year", "month", and "day" with the appropriate values or cell references.

3. Press Enter to apply the formula and convert the date components into a single date value.

4. You can also use cell references for the year, month, and day arguments to dynamically update the date value based on the contents of other cells.

Using Text to Columns Feature

The Text to Columns feature in Excel is a powerful tool that allows users to separate the contents of a cell into multiple columns. This can be especially useful when working with dates that are not formatted correctly, and need to be converted into a different format.

Overview of the Text to Columns feature in Excel

The Text to Columns feature can be found in the Data tab in Excel. It allows users to split the contents of a cell based on a delimiter, such as a comma, space, or custom character. This feature is commonly used to separate names, addresses, and dates into different columns.

Demonstration of how to use Text to Columns to convert dates

To convert dates using the Text to Columns feature, follow these steps:

  • Select the cells containing the dates
  • Go to the Data tab
  • Click on the Text to Columns button
  • Choose "Delimited" and click Next
  • Select the delimiter that separates the date components (e.g. a slash or hyphen) and click Next
  • Choose the appropriate date format for the columns and click Finish

By following these steps, the dates in the selected cells will be converted to the specified format using the Text to Columns feature in Excel.

Using CONCATENATE Function for Date Formatting

In Excel, the CONCATENATE function is used to join two or more strings together. This can be particularly useful when formatting dates in a specific way.

a. Explanation of the CONCATENATE function

The CONCATENATE function allows you to combine text from different cells into one cell. This can be useful for creating custom date formats or combining date and time values.

b. Example of how to use CONCATENATE to format dates in Excel

Let's say you have a date in Excel in the format "MM/DD/YYYY", but you want to display it as "DD-MMM-YYYY". You can use the CONCATENATE function to achieve this. Assuming the date is in cell A1, you can use the following formula in another cell:

  • =CONCATENATE(DAY(A1), "-", TEXT(A1, "mmm"), "-", YEAR(A1))

This formula uses the DAY, TEXT, and YEAR functions to extract the day, month, and year from the date in cell A1, and then joins them together using the CONCATENATE function to create the desired format.

Using Custom Formatting for Dates

In Excel, custom date formatting allows you to display dates in the way that best suits your needs. Whether it's changing the date format, adding text or symbols, or combining different date elements, custom formatting gives you full control over how dates are displayed in your worksheet.

Introduction to custom date formatting in Excel

Excel offers a range of built-in date formats, but sometimes these may not meet your specific requirements. This is where custom formatting comes in handy. With custom formatting, you can create your own date format by combining different date codes, text, and symbols.

Step-by-step guide on how to apply custom date formatting

  • Select the date cells: Start by selecting the cells containing the dates that you want to format.
  • Open the Format Cells dialog: Right-click the selected cells and choose "Format Cells" from the context menu, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1.
  • Go to the Number tab: In the Format Cells dialog, go to the "Number" tab and select "Custom" from the Category list.
  • Enter the custom date format: In the "Type" field, enter the custom date format using a combination of date codes, text, and symbols. For example, to display the date as "dd-mmm-yyyy", you would enter "dd-mmm-yyyy" in the Type field.
  • Click OK: Once you have entered the custom date format, click OK to apply the formatting to the selected cells.

By following these simple steps, you can easily apply custom date formatting to your Excel worksheet, allowing you to display dates exactly the way you want them to appear.


In conclusion, being able to convert dates in Excel is a crucial skill for anyone working with spreadsheets. It allows for better organization, analysis, and presentation of data, ultimately leading to more accurate and effective decision-making. I encourage all readers to continue practicing and mastering date conversion techniques in Excel to enhance their proficiency and efficiency in handling data.

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