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Grow Your Business Technology

Dates in Excel: How to Calculate Days Between Dates (and More)

Microsoft Excel Credit: Shutterstock

Calculating the number of days (workdays and weekends) between two dates is easy. In this example, we're figuring out how many days are between March 4, 2010 and Sept. 14, 2011. 

 

The basic function for calculating days is =DAYS("end date", "start date"). 

The key to getting this function to work is formatting each date correctly (MM/DD/YYYY) and including the quotation marks. If you encounter an error, make sure your formatting is correct. Keep in mind that if you don't enter the dates in the right order, this function will not work. The start date will always be the older date and the end date will always be the newer of the two dates. 

Once everything is formatted, press Enter and you'll have your answer. 

 

If you want to calculate the number of days between two dates that are already listed somewhere in your spreadsheet, you can use the exact same function. Instead of inputting the dates manually into the function, just select the two cells that contain the dates you want, as shown above. As you can see, there's no need to include quotation marks when you use this method. 

Figuring out the number of workdays between dates can be useful for businesses that stick to a Monday-through-Friday schedule. 

The basic formula for calculating workdays is =NETWORKDAYS("start date", "end date"). 

Here's how you use the NETWORKDAYS function: 

 

Just like in the previous function, you can also select cells that contain written dates rather than typing out the dates in MM/DD/YYYY format. As with all functions, a simple push of the Enter key gives you the answer. 

If you want to exclude holidays from your tally, you can do that too. 

To exclude holidays when you use the NETWORKDAYS function, you'll have to list the holidays by date in Excel. 

For the sake of our example, we're using the same date range as before and adding in some randomly selected "holiday" dates. If you're a small business owner, it's probably worthwhile to keep a list of holidays (by date) in an Excel spreadsheet. That way, you can copy and paste the relevant holiday dates whenever you need to figure out the workdays, excluding holidays, in a date range.  

 

The NETWORKDAYS function is essentially the same when you're excluding holidays. The only difference is that, after you include the start date and end date, you add a comma and then highlight any cells that contain holiday dates. 

 

Close the parentheses and hit Enter for the final total. 

If you want to learn more about Excel, an online course is an affordable and convenient option. You can also check out our printable arithmetic cheat sheet and our guide on calculating a running total

Sign up for an intermediate Excel course now. 

Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Tom’s IT Pro, Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Purch team in 2017.