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: Using Early Dates.

Using Early Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 27, 2014)

1

There are three basic types of information that can be stored in a cell: numeric values, strings (text), and dates. In reality, dates are nothing more than numeric values, with the number being stored representing the number of days (and partial days for the time portion of a date) since January 1, 1900. This is a quick, handy way for Excel to store dates.

What happens, however, if you are doing genealogical or historical work and you need to keep track of dates that are earlier than 1/1/1900? There are essentially three ways you can approach this problem.

First, you can split up your dates. You could, for instance, include three columns for each date: one for day, one for month, and one for year. This, of course, will not allow you to change display formats for different date notations, but it will allow you to sort (using the column contents) as you desire, and to do rudimentary math on the dates. This approach to early dates can be the easiest to implement.

Another option is to use your own date notation for entering dates. For instance, if you wanted to enter the date for April 25, 1885, you could enter it as 18850425. This would be treated as a numeric value by Excel, which means you could do math based on the numbers. Because the notation has the year first, you could easily sort dates according to need. The only drawback to this method is that you cannot use Excel's date formatting, and you must get used to the notational syntax.

Finally, you can either create your own macros to work with out-of-range dates, or you can use a third-party solution. One such solution is found at John Walkenbach's site:

http://j-walk.com/ss/excel/files/xdate.htm

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11082) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Using Early Dates.

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

Moving Object Anchors

When you insert an object into your document, it is anchored to a paragraph. If you want to change the paragraph to which ...

Discover More

Printing Selected Worksheets

When you accumulate quite a few workbooks in a folder, you might need to print out selected worksheets from all of the ...

Discover More

Printing a Short Selection

Need to print just a portion of a worksheet? It's easy to do if you follow the steps in this tip.

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Converting Time Notation to Decimal Notation

Want to convert an elapsed time, such as 8:37, to a decimal time, such as 8.62? If you know how Excel stores times ...

Discover More

Elapsed Days as Years, Months and Days

Need to know how many days there are between two dates? It's easy to figure out—unless you need the figure in ...

Discover More

Calculating the First Business Day of the Month

Want to know which day of the month is the first business day? The easiest way to determine the date is to use the ...

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 five more than 3?

2014-12-27 04:55:28

Roger

There's another tip on this web site that may also help

[Tombstone Date Maths](http://excel.tips.net/T005896_Tombstone_Date_Math.html)


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.