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: Unique Date Displays.

Unique Date Displays

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 7, 2017)

Jon requested help on how to subtract two dates and display the result such that the years were on the left of the decimal and the months on the right. Thus, if you subtracted January 7, 1985 from August 12, 2013, the result would be 28.7. The easiest way to do this is to simply do your date subtractions as regular, and then use a custom format to display the result. For instance, if the lower date were in cell A2 and the higher date in B2, you could use the following formula in C2:
=B2-A2
You would then follow these steps to format the display of the result in cell C2:
  1. Select the cell. (In this case, cell C2.)
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Number group. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Number tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. In the Category list, at the left side of the dialog box, choose Custom.
  7. In the Type box, at the left of the dialog box, enter the following format: yy.m
  8. Click on OK.
The result is that C2 shows the number of years to the left of the decimal and the number of months to the right. The problem with this is that it will always vary the number of months from 1 to 12, rather than 0 to 11, as one would expect if you were looking for elapsed months. To overcome this, you could enter the following formula in cell C2:
=(YEAR(B2)-YEAR(A2))+(MONTH(B2)-MONTH(A2))/100
This formula returns the number of years on the left of the decimal and the number of months on the right. The months are always expressed using two decimal places, however. If you wanted to make sure that the months were expressed with no leading zeros, then you would use this formula variation:
=VALUE(ABS(YEAR(B2)-YEAR(A2)) & "." & ABS(MONTH(B2)-MONTH(A2)))

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11057) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Unique Date Displays.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Highlighting Values in a Cell

There are many ways that Excel allows you to highlight information in a cell. This tip examines a way to highlight values ...

Discover More

Creating a Letterhead Template

Word is often used to write all sorts of letters. You may want to create a template that makes creating your letters ...

Discover More

Microsoft Excel VBA Guidebook (Special Offer)

Microsoft Excel VBA Guidebook can show you how to create and understand macros. Another way to increase your ...

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)

Counting Dates in a Range

Excel makes working with a list of dates relatively easy. If you have a list of dates, you may need to know how many of ...

Discover More

Incrementing Months in Dates

Excel can easily store dates. If you want to increment a date by one month, there are a number of ways you can accomplish ...

Discover More

Finding the Previous Work Day

Simple math will tell you what the previous day is (just subtract 1 from today's date). What if you want to know the date ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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 eight minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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
Subscribe

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.