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: Formatted Dates Appear Differently on Different Systems.

Formatted Dates Appear Differently on Different Systems

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 27, 2019)


Edward has noticed a problem with formatted dates on different machines. Many times, he will create a workbook on one computer but use a different computer to print the report for inclusion in a mailing. Even though he has the cells formatted one way when he creates the report (i.e., the date is mm/dd/yy), when he opens the workbook on the second computer the date will appear differently (mm/dd/yyyy). This causes problems with the appearance of the final printed report as the cell data is then truncated.

Actually, the answer to this problem is similar to the discussion in the previous tip. The problem occurs because of differences in the way that system dates are set up on the two machines. On one machine the system date is set up in Windows to display using two digits for the year, while the other is set up to display using four.

How does this affect Excel? Some of the date formats in Excel automatically use the system date format used by Windows. When you display the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box you know that Excel provides a number of different date formats you can select. Note that some of the formats have an asterisk in front of them. These represent the "system date" formats. If you select one of these, it means that Excel uses the corresponding system date format to display the information in the cell. If you move the workbook to a different system and the formats used for system dates are different, then the dates will display differently in those cells.

The solution is to either change the system date formats to be the same on both systems (done in Windows, in the Regional Settings applet of the Control Panel), or simply pick a different date format in Excel. You'll want to pick one that doesn't have an asterisk in front of it or define your own custom date format. You should then have no problem with different displays of the dates on the different systems.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9513) 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: Formatted Dates Appear Differently on Different Systems.

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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What is 1 + 3?

2015-12-05 12:25:54

Willy Vanhaelen

My comments apply to Excel files only.

I have no experience with external query's but obviously left aligned dates are text and the date formatting has no effect on them.

2015-12-04 11:43:52


@Willy Vanhaelen

actually the data source is from an external the column for date has no assigned format and is shown "06/01/2015" being "dd/mm/yyyy" and is aligned to the right of the column.
The file was setup on my system.

once the file is opened on my second pc and I refresh the query from the data source, the date is shown:
- line 1 to 5: left aligned (I have the feeling they are shown as text and not value anymore)
- line 6 to 10: right aligned as it shoul have be and it is shown on my first system.
and it repeat the same for the next lines (left aligned vs right aligned).

I have tried to set a custom format for the date using your article as above, but that did not same the problem.
I thought the problem came from format of the query source and changed the format there, but that did not solve the problem either.
I have set both the system to the same region/language format (EN UK) but with no result.

Did you ever encounter this issue?

2015-12-04 10:36:54

Willy Vanhaelen

I have no idea. You have to be more specific:
- what is the format you used i.e. dd/mm/yyyy
- how is it displayed on your system
- how is it displayed on the other system rows 1 to 5
- how is it diplayed on the other rows

2015-12-03 09:23:09


Dear Willy,

Thank you very much for your article! it helps me a lot.
unfortunately, even when i select a date format withou asterisk on my system, the format on the other system still changes...odd enough, it just changes some random this:

lines 1 to 5 : date format changes on the second system
lines 6-10: same date format

Do you know what my be the cause?

Thnak you in advance!


2015-10-27 06:47:51


Hi Willy,

Thanks for your comments, this is giving me solution to the problem.

Best Wishes and Good Luck

2015-10-26 07:23:34

Willy Vanhaelen


The date of birth will not change, it remains the same on both systems. It's only the way it is displayed that is different.

- Select one of the dates in your worksheet
- In the Home tab click on the arrow next to the Number group
- The Format Cells dialog box should appear with Date Category selected

The comment at the bottom of the box should clarify things. If you select a format Type without an asterisk in front it will display the date in the same way on both systems.

2015-10-26 04:05:18


The problem is when excel sheet with date of birth is sent through email, at the other end date shows as per local machine where email is received.

Date is sent as but at the other end it shows as mm.dd.yyyy and it creates a problem because date of birth will change.

2015-04-27 17:13:12


This still doesn't answer why Excel does this or why macros won't work because of a different date format. I thought the entire purpose of Excel having its own date/time code (where 1/1/1900 = 1) was to prevent this kind of thing.

To put it another way, if the value of the cell is one, Excel shouldn't care whether it displays 1/1/1900 or 1900-01-01 because the underlying value is the same.

Is there any solution to this issue other than adjusting the date format?

2014-12-16 06:55:50


Thank you very much for this tip. Changing the regional language did help in solving this issue.

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