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: Setting a Default Date Format.

Setting a Default Date Format

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 30, 2020)

3

When Jerry enters a date in his worksheet, he prefers the format dd/mm/yyyy which does not appear as a standard format in the Format Cells dialog box. He can create a custom format for the date, but he must do that every time he enters a date in a new workbook. Jerry wonders if there is some way to make his desired date format the standard.

There are a couple of things you can do to approach this issue. First, you can take a look at how you are formatting your dates. Instead of using a custom format, you can simply change the format locale used for your dates by Excel. Follow these steps to do your formatting:

  1. Select the cell (or cells) you want to format.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right corner of the Number group. Excel displays the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. Click Date at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. Using the Locale drop-down list, choose a country or region that uses the date format you want to use. In the case of Jerry's need, picking English (United Kingdom) is a good choice. Excel modifies the date formats available to you.
  7. Select the desired date format.
  8. Click on OK.

Another approach is to simply change the regional settings in Windows itself. You do this using the Control Panel options (look for Regional Settings in your Control Panel) and changing them to a country that uses the format you want. Excel bases its default date formatting options on which region you specify.

Finally, if you prefer you can create a cell formatting style that uses a data format of dd/mm/yyyy. If you create the style in a blank workbook, you can then save the workbook as a template and then use it to create new workbooks in the future. Since the new workbooks are based on the template, the cell formatting style would be available to apply to any cells in the workbook.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11575) 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: Setting a Default Date Format.

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 six more than 6?

2020-07-25 09:10:39

John Mann

Excel does actually default to A STANDARD format. Depending on your computer's regional settings it will default to the settings of the region you have set. Windows itself is liable to default to US, which uses the wacky (in my opinion) format of month, day, year. As noted in my earlier comment, the top two date formats listed are taken from the regional settings of your computer. On my computers, for many years, any software I have which takes a date format from the Windows regional settings will default to a numeric form of yyyy-mm-dd (today looks like 2020-07-25) becasue that's what I setup i regional settings. I've been using this international standard format since some time in the ninteen-eighties.


2020-07-24 08:49:58

JJM

It's idiotic that excel would default a date to a non standard format forcing the using to change it each time. Defaults should be the norm and then you go from there. But thanks for your free tips. Was just on a rampage.


2020-05-30 21:41:51

John Mann

You might also notice that the top two formats have an asterisk beside them. There two will take their format from the Windows system settings so presumably would change if the workbook is opend on a computer with different regional system settings.


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