How to Calculate the Number of Days Between Dates in Excel

Hey there, Excel enthusiasts and beginners alike! Today I'm going to teach you a handy trick that's bound to make your spreadsheet experience a lot smoother. We've all been there, trying to figure out how many days there are between two dates in Excel. It can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you're not used to working with the program. But fear not! Once you have this trick down, you'll be able to calculate the number of days between dates like a pro.

The Basics: DATE Functions and Basic Structure

The first thing you need to know is the structure of a date in Excel. Dates in Excel are represented by numbers, with January 1, 1900 being the number 1. From there, Excel increments the number by one for every day that passes. So, for example, January 2, 1900, would be represented by the number 2, and so on.

Now that we have the basics down, we can move on to the DATE functions. There are three DATE functions that are relevant to this tutorial:

  • DATE(year,month,day): Returns the serial number of a date.
  • YEAR(serial_number): Returns the year of a date.
  • MONTH(serial_number): Returns the month of a date.
  • DAY(serial_number): Returns the day of a date.

The serial number we're talking about here is the number that Excel assigns to dates. It's important to note that the YEAR, MONTH, and DAY functions are essential in breaking down the serial number so we can display the information in a format that makes sense to us.

Formula Breakdown: DATEDIF Function

Now that we know the basics of dates and DATE functions, we can start putting together the formula that will allow us to calculate the number of days between two dates in Excel. For this tutorial, we'll be using the DATEDIF function. It may not be the easiest function to remember, but it's definitely one of the most useful.

The DATEDIF function takes three arguments: start_date, end_date, and unit. Let's break that down in a little more detail:

  • start_date: This is the date that will serve as the starting point for the calculation. This can be any valid Excel date that you want to use.
  • end_date: This is the date that will serve as the end point for the calculation. Again, this can be any valid Excel date.
  • unit: This is the unit of time that you want the function to return. In our case, we want the function to return the number of days between the two dates. To do this, we'll use the "d" unit. Other units that can be used include "y" for years, "m" for months, "h" for hours, and so on.

So, the basic structure of our formula will look like this:

=DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, "unit")

Now that we have the structure down, let's move on to figuring out what to put in each of the arguments.

Putting It All Together: A Practical Example

Let's say that we want to calculate the number of days between two specific dates. We'll use August 17, 2021, as our start date, and October 21, 2021, as our end date. Here's what our formula will look like:

=DATEDIF(DATE(2021,8,17), DATE(2021,10,21), "d")

Breaking that down, we're using the DATE function to create two dates: August 17, 2021 and October 21, 2021. We're then plugging those dates into the DATEDIF function along with the "d" unit, which tells the function to return the number of days between the two dates.

Once we hit enter, we'll get our result: 65 days. Easy as pie!

Wrapping Up

So there you have it, folks. Once you get the hang of it, calculating the number of days between dates in Excel is pretty straightforward. And the best part? You don't have to be a mathematical genius to do it.

Remember to use the DATE functions to break down the serial numbers, and the DATEDIF function to calculate the number of days between two dates. Now you can impress your coworkers with your Excel skills, or just make your life a little easier by streamlining your spreadsheet process.

Thanks for reading, and happy calculating!

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