Excel Tutorial: How To Convert Date To Number In Excel


Converting dates to numbers in Excel is a crucial skill for anyone working with large datasets or wanting to perform advanced data analysis. When dates are represented as numerical values, it becomes easier to perform calculations, sort and filter data, and create custom date formats. By understanding how to convert dates to numbers, you can improve the efficiency of your data management and gain more insight from your Excel spreadsheets.

Key Takeaways

  • Converting dates to numbers in Excel is essential for efficient data management and advanced analysis.
  • Numerical representation of dates makes it easier to perform calculations, sorting, and filtering of data.
  • The DATEVALUE function, custom formatting, and Text-to-Columns feature are effective methods for date to number conversion.
  • Consider specific needs and data integrity when choosing the most suitable method for date conversion.
  • Exploring different methods for date to number conversion can lead to a deeper understanding of Excel functionality and improved data insight.

Understanding Date Formats in Excel

Excel allows users to input and manipulate dates in a variety of formats. Understanding these formats is crucial for accurate data analysis and calculations.

A. Explain the different date formats in Excel
  • Short Date Format:

    This format displays dates as numbers, using the system's short date format setting.
  • Long Date Format:

    This format displays a date using the full day of the week, month, day, and year.
  • Custom Date Format:

    This format allows users to create their own date format using combinations of day, month, and year codes.

B. Discuss the limitations of using date formats in calculations and analysis

While Excel provides various date formats, it can be challenging to perform calculations and analysis on dates that are not in a numerical format. Date formats often pose limitations when it comes to sorting, filtering, and performing mathematical operations.

Using the DATEVALUE Function

When working with dates in Excel, you may encounter situations where you need to convert dates to numbers for various calculations or data processing. The DATEVALUE function in Excel can help you achieve this by converting a date into a serial number that represents the date.

Introduce the DATEVALUE function in Excel

The DATEVALUE function is a built-in function in Excel that allows you to convert a date into a serial number. This function is especially useful when you need to perform calculations or analysis based on date data in Excel.

Provide step-by-step instructions on how to use the function to convert dates to numbers

  • Step 1: First, select the cell where you want the converted number to appear.
  • Step 2: Enter the following formula into the selected cell: =DATEVALUE("your_date_value"), replacing your_date_value with the cell reference or the actual date value you want to convert.
  • Step 3: Press Enter to execute the formula. The cell will now display the serial number representing the date.

Highlight any potential issues or errors that may occur when using the function

While the DATEVALUE function is a handy tool for converting dates to numbers, there are a few potential issues or errors you may encounter when using this function. One common issue is when the date format is not recognized by Excel, which can result in errors or inaccurate conversions. It's important to ensure that the date format is consistent and recognized by Excel for the function to work properly.

Using Custom Formatting to Display Dates as Numbers

When working with dates in Excel, it is often necessary to convert them into numerical values for various calculations and analysis. Custom formatting in Excel provides a convenient way to achieve this conversion without altering the actual date values. In this tutorial, we will explore how custom formatting can be used to display dates as numerical values.

Explain how custom formatting can be used to display dates as numerical values

Custom formatting allows users to change the appearance of data without changing its underlying value. In the case of dates, custom formatting can be used to display the numerical representation of a date without actually converting it to a number. This is particularly useful when the original date information still needs to be preserved for other purposes.

Provide examples of custom formatting codes for date conversion

Here are some examples of custom formatting codes that can be used to convert dates to numerical values:

  • Displaying the day of the month: To display only the day of the month as a number (e.g., 1 for the 1st, 15 for the 15th), the custom formatting code "d" can be used.
  • Displaying the day and month: To display the day and month as a number (e.g., 101 for January 1st, 112 for February 12th), the custom formatting code "md" can be used.
  • Displaying the year: To display the year as a number (e.g., 2022), the custom formatting code "yyyy" can be used.

Discuss the pros and cons of using custom formatting for this purpose

Pros: Custom formatting allows for the display of dates as numerical values without altering the original date data. This can be useful for performing calculations and analysis based on the numerical representation of dates while still retaining the date information for reference.

Cons: Custom formatting may not always be intuitive for all users, and it can be easy to accidentally change the formatting and lose the original date information. Additionally, custom formatting does not actually convert the date to a number, so it may not be suitable for situations where a numerical representation of the date is required for specific functions or formulas.

Using Text-to-Columns to Convert Dates to Numbers

When working with dates in Excel, it can be useful to convert them to numbers for various calculations or data analysis. One way to accomplish this is by using the Text-to-Columns feature.

A. Discuss how the Text-to-Columns feature can be used to convert dates to numbers

The Text-to-Columns feature in Excel is typically used to split a single column of data into multiple columns based on a delimiter, such as a comma or space. However, it can also be used to convert dates to numbers by specifying a date format as the delimiter.

B. Provide a walkthrough on using Text-to-Columns for date conversion

To use Text-to-Columns for date conversion, start by selecting the column containing the dates you want to convert. Then, go to the Data tab, click on Text to Columns, and select the Delimited option. In the next step, choose the date format that matches the format of the dates in your column, such as DMY or MDY. Finally, specify where you want the converted numbers to be placed and complete the process.

For example, if your date column contains dates in the format DD/MM/YYYY, you would choose the DMY option in the Text-to-Columns wizard to convert these dates to numbers.

C. Highlight any potential challenges or issues with this method

One potential challenge with using Text-to-Columns for date conversion is that it may not be suitable for all date formats. If your dates are in a non-standard format or are mixed formats, the Text-to-Columns feature may not be able to accurately convert them to numbers. In such cases, alternative methods such as using formulas or custom functions may be necessary.

Best Practices for Date to Number Conversion

Converting dates to numbers in Excel can be a useful tool for data analysis and manipulation. However, it is important to approach this process with care to ensure that data integrity is maintained and that the chosen method aligns with specific needs. Here are some best practices for date to number conversion in Excel:

A. Provide tips for choosing the most suitable method for date conversion based on specific needs
  • Understand the purpose: Before converting dates to numbers, it is essential to understand the purpose of the conversion. Are you looking to perform calculations, sort or filter data, or simply represent dates in a numeric format? Different methods may be more suitable for different purposes.
  • Consider date range: Consider the range of dates in your dataset. Some methods may be better suited for specific date ranges, such as past, present, or future dates.
  • Account for regional settings: Take into account the regional settings of the data. Different countries and regions may have different date formats, which can impact the conversion process.

B. Discuss potential considerations for maintaining data integrity during the conversion process
  • Backup original data: Before performing any date to number conversion, it is good practice to create a backup of the original data. This ensures that the original date values are preserved in case of any errors during the conversion process.
  • Choose a reliable method: Select a reliable method for date to number conversion to prevent data loss or inaccuracies. Built-in Excel functions such as DATEVALUE or custom formulas can be used for this purpose.
  • Verify converted data: After the conversion, it is crucial to verify the accuracy of the converted data to ensure that no information has been lost or distorted in the process.

C. Offer suggestions for handling date-related calculations and analysis after conversion
  • Use caution in calculations: When performing calculations on converted date numbers, be mindful of the numeric representation and its relation to the original date. Consider using custom formatting to display the numeric values as dates when necessary.
  • Utilize date functions: Excel offers a range of date functions that can be used to manipulate and analyze date numbers effectively. Functions such as DATE, YEAR, MONTH, and DAY can be particularly useful in performing date-related calculations after conversion.
  • Format data for clarity: To maintain clarity in the dataset, consider formatting the date numbers to display as dates, especially if the original date format is preferred for analysis and reporting purposes.


In conclusion, this tutorial has covered the key points of converting date to number in Excel. We have explored the various methods including using the DATEVALUE function, custom formatting, and manual conversion. I encourage readers to practice and explore these methods further to gain a better understanding of how date conversion works in Excel.

By using numerical values for dates in Excel-based tasks, users can benefit from easier calculations, sorting, and analysis. This not only saves time but also improves the overall efficiency of working with dates in Excel.

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