In this blog post, we'll explore various techniques and tips to help you master date and time formatting in Excel. When it comes to working with data in Excel, understanding how to format dates and times is essential. Whether you're tracking project deadlines, analyzing sales trends, or simply organizing your personal schedule, knowing how to properly format date and time values can make your spreadsheets more informative and visually appealing.

Although it is one of the most ordinary features in the desktop productivity application suite, many people are still confused about how to deal with date and time in Excel. Every user of MS Excel comes across it every now and then; it is one of the most commonly used data types in Excel. But when it comes to formatting, everybody is a bit uncomfortable as they are unaware of it.

What are the date and time formats in Excel?

Before we begin to dig deep into this topic, we shall discuss the small bits and pieces of date and time, its format, its importance in the MS Office suite, what it signifies and what we can do with it.

When you type a date and time in an Excel cell, then it appears according to the default date and time format. This default format is based on the settings that have been fed into the control panel of the system. Often this format is based on the regional settings, and these settings can be customized as per the user’s requirement.

Excel stores date and time as a sequence of numbers or integers, which is how it remembers the date and time settings.   

Normally, the default date and time settings in Excel are as follows DD/MM/YYYY for the date and for the HH: MM. The right-handed slash is the delimiter for the date, month and year. For the time, the colon is the delimiter. This format is also called the short date and time format. It contains 8 numbers. For example, the date today is 18th November 2022, and the time is 12: 48 pm. Then the date and time according to the short date format will be 18/11/2022 and 12:48. The time will follow a 24-hour format. 

There is also a long date and time format in Excel. The long date format is DD MM YYYY format; the only difference here is that the month is written in text. The long-time format is HH:MM: SS. As you can see, in the long-time format, the seconds are added. So, for the same date and time mentioned above, the date and time will be 18 November 2022 and 12:48:00, respectively.

There is also a standard date time format called the ISO 8601 format, that is followed universally. To know more about it read the article about ISO 8601 date time format, and how to alter the date time format in Google Sheets.  

How to change a Date Time format?

  1. Click on the Home tab in the number group. Click on the Dialogue Box Launcher which is next to the number. Other way to open dialogue box launcher by pressing CTRL + 1 or the right click button.
  2. Then in the category box, click on the Date or Time. Click on the format that closely resembles the date and time format you want. It is easier to start from a pre-existing format.  
  3. Now, in the category box, you need to click on Custom. Then you need to click the type box and then make the changes that you want in the customized format. 

Now, you have changed the default format to the custom format. The entire procedure of changing the date and time format is complete.


Now you know how to customize the date and time in Excel. You can do that in Google Sheets as well. But if you want to automate workflows like these in Google Workspace, then you can do so with the help of Foresight. It is one of the best tools which will help you to handle repetitive tasks like these and save your time without having to write a single line of code. To know more about Foresight, visit our website.