How to Subtract Time in Excel: A Step by Step Guide

Are you tired of manually calculating time differences in Excel? Don't worry, I got you covered! Subtracting time in Excel may seem intimidating, but I'm here to guide you through the process step by step. Let's dive in!

Step 1: Format Your Cells

Before we start subtracting time in Excel, we need to make sure our cells are formatted correctly. Select the cells you will be subtracting time from, right-click, and select "Format Cells". Under the "Number" tab, select "Time" and choose the time format that suits you best.

Step 2: Enter Your Time Values

Now that our cells are formatted correctly, we can start entering our time values. When inputting time values, don't forget to include the colon! For example, to input 9:30 AM, you would input "9:30 AM" into the cell.

Step 3: Subtract Time Using the "-" Operator

To subtract time in Excel, simply use the "-" operator. For example, to find the difference between two times, subtract your end time cell from the start time cell. Excel will automatically calculate the time difference in the cell you input the formula into.

Here's an example: if we want to find the difference between 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM, we would input "10:30 AM - 9:00 AM" into a separate cell and Excel will calculate the time difference for us.

Step 4: Format Time Differences

Now that we have our time differences, we can format them to display as hours, minutes, or seconds. Simply right-click on the cell with the time difference, select "Format Cells", and choose the desired time format under the "Number" tab.

Bonus Tips

Here are a few bonus tips to make subtracting time in Excel even easier:

  • Use military time: Military time, or 24-hour time, eliminates the need for AM and PM and makes calculating time differences easier.
  • Use parentheses: If you want to subtract two time values and the result is negative, enclose the formula in parentheses to display the result as a positive value.
  • Use absolute cell references: If you want to subtract time from a static value, use absolute cell references by adding dollar signs before the column letter and row number. This ensures that Excel doesn't change the cell reference when copying the formula to other cells.


And there you have it - a step by step guide on how to subtract time in Excel! With these tips and tricks, you'll be a pro in no time. Happy calculating!

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