Data Entry With Date and Time

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Data Entry With Date and Time Values

Introduction to Dates

A date is a type of number that measures the number of units, called days, that have occurred since another starting date. To express this number (the date), there are rules you should (must) follow. The rules depend on each language. To know the rules for US English, from the Control Panel, you can open the Regional and Language Options window, click the Customize button, and access the Date tab:

We will come back to some aspects of these rules.

Entering a Date

To enter a date in a cell, you use a format. In US English, you use a combination of a month, a day, and a year. These entities must be separated. The separation depends on both you and the way the operating system handles dates.

To express a month, you have a choice between a number and a name. If you decide to use a number, it should (must) be between 1 included and the 12 included. If the month is between 1 and 9, you can precede it with 0 or not. If you want to express a month with a name, you have two choices. You can use a long name or a short name. The long names of month are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December. Their equivalent short names use three letters each and they are  Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, and Dec respectively.

A day is expressed using a number that starts with 1 and ends with either 30 or 31 depending on the month except for February. The month of February can have either 28 or 29 days depending on something called the leap year. If the day value is between 1 and 9 included, you can enter it with a leading 0 or not.

The year is entered with 2 or 4 digits. If you enter the year with 2 digits, Microsoft Office Excel 2007 may ask you to specify whether you want to use the current century (2000 to 2100) or the previous century (1900 to 1999). To be safe, you should always enter the year with 4 digits.

As mentioned already, when entering a date, you must separate the values of the month, the day, and the year. In US English, the symbol used to separate these entities is the forward slash "/" as you can see from the Date Separator combo box in the Customize Regional Options. An example of entering a date would be 02/18/1998.

In reality, Microsoft Excel is very flexible and understanding with date formats. For example, instead of the forward slash, when entering a date, you can use the dash "-". An example would be 02-18-1998. After entering the date and pressing either Tab or Enter or clicking another cell, if Microsoft Excel can successfully analyze the value and conclude that it is a date, it would convert it to the right format. In this case, the date would be converted to 02/18/1998.

As mentioned already, Microsoft Excel also allows you to use the name of a month. You must follow some rules if you choose this format. If you want to specify the name of a month, use one of the following formats:

  • dd-mmm
  • dd mmm
  • dd-mmmm
  • dd mmmm

To use this format, enter the day value using one or two digits. If the day is less than 10, you can enter it with a leading 0. After the day, either leave an empty space or enter -, followed by the short or the long name of the month. Examples are 04-Jan or 16 Apr or 8-December or 26 December. Alternatives to these formats are:

  • mmm dd
  • mmm-dd
  • mmmm dd
  • mmmm-dd

In this case, start the date with the month as a short or a long name, followed by either an empty space or -, followed by the day value. These would have the same effect.

After entering the date with only the day and the month, Microsoft Excel would analyze the value. If the application concludes that the value is a date, it would use the current year for that date and convert it to a valid date.

Practical Learning: Entering Simple Dates

  1. The CPAR1.xlsx workbook should still be opened and the Repair Invoice worksheet active.
    Click Cell B6 and type, type 01-Oct and, on the Formula Bar, click the Enter button Enter.
    Notice that Microsoft Excel has recognized the value as date and, in the Formula Bar, notice that Microsoft Excel added the current year to complete the date
  2. Save the workbook

Dates Formats

If you want to express the year value, you can use one of the following formats:

  • mm-dd-yy
  • mm-dd-yyyy

You must start the date with a number that represents the month (a number from 1 to 12). After the month value, enter -. Then type the day value as a number between 1 and 28, 29, 30, or 31 depending on the month and the (leap) year. Follow it with -. End the value with a year in 2 or 4 digits. Here are examples 06-12-08 or 10-08-2006.

You can also use one of the following formats:

  • dd-mmm-yy
  • dd mmm yy
  • dd-mmmm-yy
  • dd mmmm yy
  • dd-mmm-yyyy
  • dd mmm yyyy
  • dd-mmmm-yyyy
  • dd mmmm yyyy

This time, enter the day value followed either by an empty space or -. Follow it the short name of the month in the mmm placeholder or the complete name of the month for the mmmm placeholder, followed by either an empty space or -. End the value with the year, using 2 or 4 digits.

As you may know already, in US English, you can start a date with the month. In this case, you can use one of the following formats:

  • mmm dd, yy
  • mmm dd, yyyy
  • mmmm dd, yy
  • mmmm dd, yyyy

As seen with the previous formats, mmm represents the short name of a month and mmmm represents the complete name of a month. As mentioned already, the dd day can be expressed with 1 or 2 digits and the single digit can have a leading 0. After the day value, (you must) enter a comma followed by the year either with 2 or 4 digits.

Practical Learning: Entering Simple Dates

  1. Access the CPAR Repair Orders.xlsx workbook
  2. Click Cell D5, type November 12, 2008 and, on the Formula Bar, click the Enter button Enter
  3. Save the workbook 

Entering a Time Value

As a normal spreadsheet application, Microsoft Excel supports time value. To express a time, you must follow some rules. To check the available rules, you can start the Control Panel and open the Regional Settings Options. Then click the Customize button. The rules for time values are stated in the Time property page: