Dates

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Dates

Introduction

A date is a number that represents the number of days that have elapsed from a set period in history. Microsoft Excel uses natural numbers to represent a date value as the number of days that have passed since 1/1/1900 on MS Windows (or since 1/2/1904 on Macintosh).

Date Representation

To make a date easily recognizable, there is a formula you use, depending on the language. The first place you can check about representing dates is in Control Panel from the Regional Settings. In US English, this is represented as follows:

Customize Regional Options

Based on this, to represent a date (in US English), you use placeholders for numbers and a special symbol called the Date Separator. The default and most used date separator (in US English is the forward slash "/". Here is an example of representing a date: 8/5/2000.

Besides the numbers, you can use words to represent a date. The days of a week have names. There are three main ways to represent a day of a week. You can use a complete name as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Each of these names also has an equivalent short name you can use instead. They are Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, and Sat, respectively. A day of a week can also be represented by a natural number. By default, this would be 1 for Sunday, 2 for Monday, 3 for Tuesday, 4 for Wednesday, 5 for Thursday, 6 for Friday, and 7 for Saturday.

The months of a year have names. As done with weekdays, there are three main ways to represent a month. You can use a complete name as January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December. Each of these names also has an equivalent short name you can use instead. They are Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Sep, Oct, Nov, and Dec respectively. A month can also be represented by a natural number. This would be 01 or 1 for January, 02 or 2 for February, 03 or 3 for March, 04 or 4 for April, 05 or 5 for May, 06 or 6 for June, 07 or 7 for July, 08 or 8 for August, 09 or 9 for September, 10 for October, 11 for November, or 12 for December.

When names to represent a date, you can use empty spaces to separate the components of a date. You can also use the comma and the empty space, where appropriate, to separate two sections of a date.

Microsoft Excel as a powerful mathematical tool, recognizes all the rules of date representation but because there can be so many ways of stating the same value, it completely allows you to indicate how you want your date values to be represented. Microsoft Excel also provides suggestive formats you can use.