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: Setting a Default Date Format.

Setting a Default Date Format

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 14, 2020)


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, and 2013. 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 7 + 5?

2019-04-04 10:40:24

J. Woolley

@Adam: I have the same issue. Is it something new? I don't recall seeing it before.

But here's something interesting in my Excel Version 1902. When I open a new worksheet and enter 4/1 into a cell, the cell displays 01-Apr (and the formula bar displays 04/01/2019). But if I enter 4/1/19 (or 4/1/2019) into another cell, that cell displays 04/01/19 (and the formula bar displays 04/01/2019). Pressing Ctrl+; into another cell displays the current date in my default short date format mm/dd/yy. Finally, if I go back to the 1st cell displaying 01-Apr and enter any date like 4/1/19 or 4/1/2019 or 12/25/20 or press Ctrl+; it continues to display the dd-mmm format. But if I go to the 2nd cell displaying 04/01/19 and enter 4/1 without the year (as originally done in the 1st cell) it continues to display the mm/dd/yy format.

2019-04-03 23:02:13


Is there a way to set up a default format so that every time you start a new spreadsheet, you have your preferred date format? In my case, when I open up a new spreadsheet, I get this offensive Day-Month format. Any way to change that? Setting the Window's regional settings has no impact, nor does selecting "English (United States)" as the local.

2018-12-10 07:26:03


Is it possible to do this on older versions of Excel without a Locale drop-down-list?

2018-06-03 23:55:27

noel lagajino

i just wanted to ask a question,

in the previous versions of excel 2013 for example,

when i typed 5-6 it is read as May 06 *current yr
but in the excel 2016 when i input the same data it will display as June 05.

can i make the date input into mm/dd and result to dd/mm/yy
rather than dd/mm input format ?

its kind of troublesome.

thank you

2016-11-21 14:28:58


Changing the system date default has no effect on Excel, not at least on my Windows 7 with MS Office 16. So the upshot of this is: "MS Excel does not allow a user to change the default date format." Sigh. And we are stuck with that awful looking green square-cornered titlebar. So sad.

2016-07-21 14:41:34


What Thomas said, I can't find a solution to this anywhere. I get dd-mmm as default and can't change it to mm-dd-yyyy. (Windows 7, Office 2010)

2016-07-11 18:39:02


I want to set a default in Excel 2010 so that on any worksheet I can enter
m/d and get mm/dd/yyyy

I hate that format.

2016-05-29 12:12:44


Is there any possibility to set the default dateformat when loading a csv-file into Excel 2013? I have the dateformat YYYY-MM-DD in the csv, load it into Excel and it is displayed automatically in German locale. When I save the csv again, the displayed format is saved, not the original source format.

2016-04-27 11:18:03


Here's a question I haven't been able to find on your very cool site. I have this awesome reporting tool called Xtraction that will allow me to export a report to different formats, when I export to .xlsx the time/date doesn't display in the same way as the report. For example, within Xtraction the dashboard shows the date as:
6/25/2016 8:02am
but Excel always defaults to:
25-June-2016 08:02AM

Xtraction allows me to export to HTML, PDF, Word, etc. and the date shows up in the 'desired' format as 6/25/2016, but for some reason Excel changes the format. How can I prevent this?

2016-03-13 04:22:00

Engr/ Mustafa Saleh

Very useful especially changing windows formatting, thanks.

2016-03-11 11:50:32

Peter Atherton


Excel has formats for various countries as was mentioned in the tip.

This is the date for 3rd March 2016 for a South African language.

2016 Nyenyankulu 11

The article mentioned that Jerry did want UK format. If you want something different, try entering what format you require for a specific date so someone can try to help you

2016-03-10 06:22:26


Thanks for this, it was staring me in the face and i could not see it, now i can stop swearing at my computer
Once again Thanks

2016-03-03 11:45:25


UK English actually causes DD/MM/YYYY which is not what Jerry (or myself) want.

2015-11-10 16:18:07


I have a date in my excel spreadsheet that has a format of 28/09/2015. I would like to change it to 09/28/15. Nothing I try works/ Is there a way to do this?

2015-11-09 19:11:56


Setting the regional date format does not change Excel's date format for me. (Win 7 and Excel 2010.)

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