Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Finding the Previous Work Day.

Finding the Previous Work Day

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 28, 2017)


Joe wonders how to return the date of the previous work day, taking into account any holidays. He needs to be able to get this information on any particular date. This is rather easy; in fact, Excel has a function designed specifically for this purpose:


The WORKDAY function is used to determine dates for workdays, based upon adjustments that you specify. The first argument, A1, refers to the cell where the reference date is located. This information can be obtained in a couple of different ways. You can manually enter the date into cell A1 or you could use a formula in that cell to signify the date. For instance, you could use the following simple formula in cell A1 so that it always contains today's date:


The second part of the formula, -1, says to subtract one day from the date in A1. The third part of the formula, MyHolidays, refers to a named range containing a list of dates and holidays you want skipped in determining the previous workday.

The WORKDAY function returns the date of day previous to the date entered in A1, allowing for any holidays.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8106) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Finding the Previous Work Day.

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. ...


Using the Spike to Edit

Most Word users are proficient in cutting and pasting text using the Clipboard. One of the lesser-known editing tools, ...

Discover More

Sending Printer Commands

If you need to send a command directly to your printer, then you need to use the PRINT field. It allows you to send ...

Discover More

Highlight Words from a Word List

Do you need to highlight certain words in a document, and aren't quite sure how to go about it? Using the techniques ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Ages in Years and Months

Calculating an age is a common task when working with dates. If you want to figure out the number of years and months ...

Discover More

Unique Military Date Format

Some industries (such as the military) have special formatting that they use to represent dates. Here is one such format ...

Discover More

Parsing Non-Standard Date Formats

When you load data into Excel that was created in other programs, the formatting used for some types of data (such as ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 1 + 5?

2017-06-28 11:26:04


Thanks Allen! It's always great to learn about Excel's functions, which are the key to the future: functions, functions, functions--then smart automation to do the rest while we sip Coronas on the beach.

2016-06-01 08:48:48


Thank You for the tip.

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.