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: Using Early Dates.

Using Early Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 26, 2021)

3

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 Charley Kyd's site:

http://www.exceluser.com/formulas/earlydates.htm

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11082) 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: 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

Replacing Hidden Text

Word allows you to format text so it can be easily hidden from view and from printing. If you want to convert the hidden ...

Discover More

Making Macros Run Faster

Designing a macro to make it run faster.

Discover More

Printing Just the Visible Data

In a large worksheet, you may want to display and print just a portion of the available data. Displaying the desired ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

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

Converting Coded Dates into Real Dates

Sometimes the format in which you receive data is not the same format that would be optimal for Excel. For instance, you ...

Discover More

Converting Mainframe Date Formats

Different industries and different computer systems specify dates in all sorts of strange ways. If you need to convert a ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 8 + 2?

2021-09-12 12:57:48

Tomek

I meant dates after Jan. 1 and before Mar. 1, 1900.


2021-09-12 12:54:57

Tomek

There is a bug in the way Excel handles dates before March 1, 1900. The bug stems from the fact that year 1900 was NOT a LEAP year, but Excel accepts Feb. 29 of that year as a valid date!. It assigns serial number 60 to this date. Hence any arithmetic calculations that crosses that date is off by one day.

Also, Excel accepts 0 as the date serial number - and converts it to 1900-01-00. However it will not accept entry of such a date as valid and will treat it as text.

In general, the dates are handled OK if they are between March 1, 1900 and December 31, 9999


2021-06-27 10:25:51

J. Woolley

For extended date functions (years 0100 to 9999), see Chapter 8 of J. Walkenbach, "Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA Examples." You can Download from https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Excel+2013+Power+Programming+with+VBA-p-9781118490402


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.