How to Calculate Difference Between Two Dates and Times in Excel Easily

Calculating the difference between two dates and times in Excel is a handy skill that can save you a lot of hassle. With Excel’s built-in functions, you can easily determine the time difference in days, hours, minutes, or even seconds. This article will walk you through the steps to make this calculation seamlessly, and provide you with useful tips and answers to common questions.

How to Calculate Difference Between Two Dates and Times in Excel

In this section, we’ll go through an easy, step-by-step process to calculate the time difference between two dates and times in Excel. By the end of these steps, you’ll be able to perform this task with confidence.

Step 1: Enter your dates and times into cells

First, input the dates and times you want to compare into two separate cells.

To do this, simply click on a cell and type in the date and time. For example, if you want to compare January 1, 2023, 8:00 AM to January 3, 2023, 6:00 PM, you would enter "1/1/2023 8:00 AM" in one cell and "1/3/2023 6:00 PM" in another.

Step 2: Subtract the earlier date from the later date

Next, subtract the earlier date and time from the later date and time.

In a new cell, type the formula =B1-A1, assuming your later date is in cell B1 and your earlier date is in cell A1. This will give you the difference in a date-time format.

Step 3: Format the result

Then, format the result to show the difference in a readable way.

Right-click on the cell with the result, select "Format Cells," choose "Custom," and then type the format code [h]:mm:ss to display the result in hours, minutes, and seconds. This helps make the difference more comprehensible.

Step 4: Calculate the difference in days, hours, minutes, or seconds

You can further break down the time difference into days, hours, minutes, and seconds by using additional formulas.

For days, use =INT(B1-A1). For hours, use =HOUR(B1-A1). For minutes, use =MINUTE(B1-A1). For seconds, use =SECOND(B1-A1). Each of these formulas extracts a specific part of the time difference.

Step 5: Adjust for any negative values

Finally, ensure that your calculations are logically sound by adjusting for any negative values.

If your subtraction results in a negative value, it means your earlier date and time are actually later than your second date and time. You can use the ABS function to convert any negative values to positive ones, ensuring your calculations make sense.

After completing these steps, you will see the exact difference between the two dates and times you input.

Tips for Calculating Difference Between Two Dates and Times in Excel

  • Make sure your date and time formats are consistent throughout the cells.
  • Use the DATEDIF function for straightforward day differences.
  • Leverage Excel’s built-in date and time functions like NOW() for dynamic calculations.
  • Double-check your cell references in your formulas to avoid errors.
  • Utilize conditional formatting to highlight negative differences for quick identification.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I handle dates and times from different time zones?

You can adjust the times to a common time zone before performing calculations.

Can I calculate the difference in business days?

Yes, use the NETWORKDAYS function to exclude weekends and holidays.

What if I only have dates without specific times?

The formulas will still work, treating the time part as 00:00 by default.

How do I add or subtract time from a date?

You can use the DATE and TIME functions to add or subtract specific amounts.

Can I automate these calculations?

Yes, using macros or VBA scripts can automate these repetitive tasks.


  1. Enter your dates and times into cells.
  2. Subtract the earlier date from the later date.
  3. Format the result.
  4. Calculate the difference in days, hours, minutes, or seconds.
  5. Adjust for any negative values.


Calculating the difference between two dates and times in Excel is not only straightforward but also incredibly useful. Whether you’re managing a project timeline, tracking work hours, or analyzing event durations, mastering this skill can help you streamline your workflow and make more informed decisions.

We hope this guide has made the process clear and easy to follow. For further reading, check out Excel’s documentation or other online resources for advanced date and time functions. If you have any questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment!

Now, go ahead and put these steps into practice. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save by letting Excel do the heavy lifting for you!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy