Excel Tutorial: How To Put Dates In Excel


Putting dates in Excel is essential for keeping track of important deadlines, creating organized schedules, and analyzing data over time. In this tutorial, we will cover the various ways to input dates in Excel and demonstrate how to manipulate and format them to suit your specific needs.

This tutorial will include:

  • Entering dates manually
  • Using functions to input dates
  • Formatting date cells for clarity and uniformity

Key Takeaways

  • Accurately inputting dates in Excel is important for keeping track of deadlines and analyzing data over time.
  • There are various ways to enter dates in Excel, including manual entry and using functions.
  • Formatting date cells can improve clarity and uniformity in your Excel spreadsheets.
  • Sorting and filtering dates allows for better analysis and organization of date-related data.
  • Exploring and practicing date-related functions in Excel can enhance your proficiency in using the software.

Understanding Date Formats in Excel

When working with dates in Excel, it's important to understand the different date formats available and how to change them to suit your needs.

A. Explanation of different date formats in Excel
  • Short Date

    - This format displays the date using the short date format specified in the regional settings of your computer.
  • Long Date

    - This format displays the date using the long date format specified in the regional settings of your computer.
  • Custom Date Formats

    - Excel also allows you to create custom date formats to display the date in a specific way, such as "dd/mm/yyyy" or "mmm dd, yyyy".

B. How to change the date format in Excel
  • 1. Select the cells with dates

    - First, select the cells containing the dates that you want to format.
  • 2. Go to the Home tab

    - Click on the "Home" tab in the Excel ribbon at the top of the screen.
  • 3. Click on the Number Format drop-down menu

    - In the "Number" group, click on the drop-down menu next to the number format box.
  • 4. Choose the desired date format

    - From the drop-down menu, select the date format that you want to apply to the selected cells.

Entering Dates Manually

Manually entering dates in Excel can be a simple process if you follow the correct steps and best practices. In this chapter, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to manually enter dates in Excel and discuss the best practices to ensure accuracy.

Step-by-step guide on manually entering dates

  • Select the cell: Start by selecting the cell where you want to enter the date.
  • Type the date: Once the cell is selected, type the date in the desired format (e.g., mm/dd/yyyy or dd-mm-yy).
  • Press Enter: Press the Enter key on your keyboard to confirm and input the date into the cell.

Best practices for entering dates accurately

  • Use consistent date format: It is important to use a consistent date format throughout your Excel workbook to avoid confusion and errors.
  • Use data validation: Implement data validation to restrict the type of data that can be entered into a cell to ensure that only valid dates are input.
  • Double-check the dates: Always double-check the dates you have entered to ensure accuracy and avoid mistakes.

Using Functions to Input Dates

When working with Excel, it can be crucial to input dates accurately and efficiently. Fortunately, Excel provides a variety of date functions that can simplify this process. In this tutorial, we will explore the use of date functions in Excel and provide examples of commonly used functions.

Introduction to date functions in Excel

Excel offers a range of date functions that allow users to input, manipulate, and display dates in various formats. These functions can be particularly useful for tasks such as calculating project timelines, tracking deadlines, and analyzing time-based data. By understanding and utilizing date functions, users can streamline their workflow and ensure accurate date calculations.

Examples of commonly used date functions

Here are a few commonly used date functions in Excel:

  • TODAY: The TODAY function simply returns the current date. This can be useful for automatically updating a spreadsheet with the current date.
  • DATE: The DATE function allows users to create a date based on input year, month, and day values. This is particularly helpful for creating specific dates within a spreadsheet.
  • EDATE: The EDATE function adds or subtracts a specified number of months from a given date. This can be handy for tasks such as calculating future payment dates or project milestones.

Formatting Dates for Readability

When working with dates in Excel, it is important to format them in a way that is easily readable for yourself and others who may be using the spreadsheet. Here are some tips for formatting dates for better readability:

  • Use Consistent Date Format: It is important to use a consistent date format throughout the spreadsheet to avoid confusion. Choose a format that makes the day, month, and year clear.
  • Shorten the Year: If the year is not important for your specific use case, you can shorten it to two digits to save space and make the date format less cluttered.
  • Use Text to Display Dates: If you want to display the date as text and prevent Excel from automatically reformatting it, you can use an apostrophe (') before entering the date.

Customizing date formats to suit specific needs

Excel offers a variety of options for customizing the date format to suit specific needs. Here are some ways you can customize date formats in Excel:

  • Custom Date Format: Excel allows you to create custom date formats using the format cells dialog. This can be useful for displaying dates in a specific way such as including the day of the week, or using a different date separator.
  • Changing Date Format for Regional Settings: If you are working with dates in different regions, you can change the date format to match the regional settings. This can be done through the Control Panel in Windows or System Preferences on a Mac.
  • Using Conditional Formatting: Conditional formatting can be used to automatically format dates based on certain criteria. For example, you can use conditional formatting to highlight dates that are overdue or upcoming.

Sorting and Filtering Dates

When working with dates in Excel, it’s essential to know how to sort and filter them to analyze and visualize your data effectively. In this tutorial, we will cover how to sort dates in ascending or descending order and use filters to analyze data based on dates.

A. How to sort dates in ascending or descending order

Sorting dates in Excel is a straightforward process that allows you to arrange your data chronologically.

  • Ascending order: To sort dates in ascending order, select the column containing the dates you want to sort. Then, navigate to the Data tab, click on the Sort A to Z button to arrange the dates from the earliest to the latest.
  • Descending order: Similarly, to sort dates in descending order, select the column with the dates and go to the Data tab. Click on the Sort Z to A button to arrange the dates from the latest to the earliest.

B. Using filters to analyze data based on dates

Excel’s filter feature allows you to analyze and extract specific data based on dates.

  • Applying a filter: To apply a filter to your date column, select the column and click on the Filter button in the Data tab. This will display dropdown arrows next to the column headers, allowing you to filter the dates based on specific criteria.
  • Filtering by date range: With the filter applied, you can select the dropdown arrow next to the date column and choose the Date Filters option. From there, you can select predefined date ranges or create custom date filters to narrow down your data based on specific date criteria.


It is crucial to accurately input dates in Excel to ensure the integrity of your data and to effectively utilize date-related functions. Whether you are tracking project timelines or analyzing sales trends, the accuracy of your date entries can greatly impact the reliability of your analysis. I encourage you to practice and explore more date-related functions in Excel to become more proficient in managing dates and further enhance your data handling skills.

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