Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Changing Excel's Starting Date.

Changing Excel's Starting Date

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 11, 2020)

Excel allows you to choose which arbitrary date you use as the beginning point for date and time serial numbers. In the PC world, the default date is January 1, 1900. If you are working with Excel workbooks imported from the Macintosh environment, however, you will want to set the starting date to January 2, 1904—the default date used on the Mac.

To set which of these two dates is used, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you see the section titled When Calculating this Workbook. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. The Use 1904 Date System check box controls which dating system is used by Excel. If the check box is not selected, then the January 1, 1900 starting date is used; if it is selected, then January 2, 1904 is used.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6249) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Changing Excel's Starting Date.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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