How to Calculate Total Hours in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Calculating the total hours in Excel is a straightforward task that anyone can master. By using simple formulas and the built-in functions of Excel, you can quickly add up time entries to see the total number of hours worked. This method is beneficial for tracking work hours, managing projects, or any situation where you need to sum up time durations. This guide will break down the process step by step to help you calculate total hours in Excel easily and efficiently.

Step-by-Step Tutorial: How to Calculate Total Hours in Excel

Below, we’ll outline the steps necessary to calculate total hours in Excel. By following these steps, you will be able to sum up time entries and derive the total hours accurately.

Step 1: Open Your Excel Spreadsheet

First, open the Excel file where you have your time data.

Make sure your time data is organized in a column format, with each entry representing a different time period.

Step 2: Enter Your Time Data

Step 2: Ensure that all time entries are in the same format, like "hh:mm".

You can enter times manually or copy them from another source, but consistency in format is key.

Step 3: Use the SUM Function

Step 3: Select a cell where you want the total hours to appear and type "=SUM(".

Drag to select the range of cells containing your time data, then close the formula with ")".

Step 4: Format the Result Cell

Step 4: Right-click on the cell with your formula and select "Format Cells".

Under the "Number" tab, choose "Custom" and enter "[h]:mm" for the format.

Step 5: Press Enter to Calculate

Step 5: Press Enter to finalize the formula and see the total hours calculated.

The cell will display the total sum of all the time entries you’ve selected.

After completing these steps, you will have the total number of hours calculated and displayed in your Excel spreadsheet. This sum will help you keep track of time and manage it more effectively.

Tips for Calculating Total Hours in Excel

  • Consistency is Key: Ensure all time entries are in the same format, whether it’s "hh:mm" or "hh:mm:ss".
  • Use Cell References: Instead of typing ranges manually, use cell references to avoid errors.
  • Double-Check Entries: Make sure there are no typos or incorrect time formats that might skew your total.
  • Utilize AutoFill: If you have a large dataset, use the AutoFill feature to quickly populate time entries.
  • Backup Your Data: Always keep a backup of your Excel file to prevent data loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I format cells to show time in Excel?

Right-click the cell, choose "Format Cells," select the "Number" tab, and then choose "Time" or "Custom" with the format "[h]:mm".

Can I calculate time elapsed over multiple days?

Yes, use the same steps, and ensure your time entries include dates. Excel will handle date and time together.

What if my total hours exceed 24?

Using the "[h]:mm" format will display hours correctly, even if it exceeds 24 hours.

How do I subtract time in Excel?

To subtract time, use the formula =end_time - start_time and format the cell to display time.

Can I add seconds to my time calculation?

Yes, use the format "[h]:mm:ss" to include seconds in your calculations.


  1. Open Your Excel Spreadsheet
  2. Enter Your Time Data
  3. Use the SUM Function
  4. Format the Result Cell
  5. Press Enter to Calculate


Calculating total hours in Excel can be a game-changer for managing your time efficiently. Whether you’re tracking work hours, project durations, or any other time-related data, this simple yet powerful tool can help you stay organized and accurate. By following these steps, you’ll have no problem summing up hours and minutes in no time. You might also want to explore other Excel functions and formulas to further enhance your data management skills. Happy calculating!

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