Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Noting Inactivity within a Timeframe.

Noting Inactivity within a Timeframe

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 28, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Graham is a lawyer with several hundred clients. He uses Excel to record time spent on client projects. In column A he notes the client, column B contains the date, column C the start time, and column D the end time. Graham would like to easily identify if he has not done anything for a client for more than three months from the current date.

There are a few ways you can accomplish this task, depending upon the characteristics of the data you are working with. If each client has a single line in the data table then you can use a simple conditional formatting rule to highlight those clients with record dates (column B) older than 90 days. Here's the formula you would use in the rule:

=(TODAY()-B2)>=90

The formula subtracts the date in B2 from today's date, which provides a number of days between the two dates. If it is greater than or equal to 90, then the formula is true, and your conditional format is applied.

This approach can be used if there are multiple records for each client, but it may not provide as clear-cut of an indicator as you might like. If you sort the records by client name, you can easily see which records from each client are over 90 days old. But you would then need to visually make a determination whether all the records for a given client are over 90 days so you can determine if you need to close out their account or not.

It may be better to use a different conditional formatting rule if your data table has multiple records per client. The following formula can be applied to all the clients in column A:

=AND(COUNTIF($A$2:$A2,$A2)=COUNTIF($A:$A,$A2),(TODAY()-B2)>=90)

It checks to see if the date is outside the desired 90 days, but it only does so if the current record is the last record for the client in the list.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12890) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Noting Inactivity within a Timeframe.

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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