Rounding to a Half Hour and Formatting the Display

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 16, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021

Lorene has a column that contains various times of day. She needs to round the times to the nearest half hour and display them as, for example, 10 am and 10:30 am. (Lowercase, minutes shown for only the half hour, and lowercase am/pm indicator.) She wonders if this is something she can do with a custom format, or if she needs to use a formula.

The short answer is that you cannot get the desired result with just a custom format. Instead, you'll need to use three features of Excel: a formula, a custom format, and a conditional format, all working in conjunction with each other. How you can round times has been covered in a different ExcelTip, here:

To boil it down succinctly, in Lorene's case you could round the time to the nearest half hour in the following manner:


This assumes, of course, that the original time is in cell A1. You can then apply the following custom format to the result of the formula:

h:mm a/p\m

This will display the results of the formula as hours and minutes with an am/pm indicator. This, however, still isn't quite what Lorene is looking for, which is no minutes indicated if the minutes are ":00". The final step can be accomplished by adding a conditional format to the cell. Assuming that your formula is in cell B1, follow these steps:

  1. Select cell B1.
  2. Make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. Click the Conditional Formatting tool. Excel displays a series of choices.
  4. Click New Rule. Excel displays the New Formatting Rule dialog box.
  5. In the Select a Rule Type area at the top of the dialog box, choose Use a Formula to Determine Which Cells to Format. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The New Formatting Rule dialog box.

  7. In the formula space, enter the following formula:
  8.      =MINUTE(B1)=0
  9. Click on the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  10. Make sure the Number tab is selected.
  11. Click Custom at the bottom-left side of the dialog box. (You are setting a custom format to be used if the formula in step 6 is True.)
  12. In the Type box, enter the following format:
  13.      h a/p\m
  14. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box.
  15. Click on OK to close the New Formatting Rule dialog box.

That's it; the cell will now display the formatted time value as Lorene desired.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13913) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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