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

Calculating the total hours formula in Excel is a straightforward process. First, input your start and end times into two separate cells. Then, subtract the start time from the end time in a new cell, and multiply by 24 to convert the result from days to hours. Finally, use the INT function to round down the number to the nearest whole number if necessary. After this, you’ll have the total hours worked, which can be beneficial for various purposes like payroll, project management, and personal time tracking.

After completing this action, you’ll have a clear understanding of the total hours spent on a task or project. This allows for more accurate billing, better project management, and a clearer view of your time allocation.


Excel is a powerful tool that can make life a lot simpler for those who know how to use it effectively. One of its many uses is the ability to calculate the total hours formula, which is essential for anyone who needs to track time, whether it be for work, personal projects, or even just to keep an eye on how much TV you’ve binged this weekend.

Understanding how to calculate total hours in Excel is important for a variety of users. For business owners and managers, it’s essential for payroll and project management. For freelancers and consultants, it’s important for billing clients accurately. And for the average Joe, it can be useful when tracking time spent on different activities, or when planning out the week ahead. It’s a simple yet effective function that can save you a ton of time and potential headaches. So, let’s dive in and learn how to master this handy skill.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Calculate the Total Hours Formula in Excel

Before we start, it’s important to note what these steps will accomplish. By following this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use Excel to calculate the total hours between two times, which is useful for a range of applications.

Step 1: Input Start and End Times

Enter the start time in one cell and the end time in another cell.

In this step, it’s important to make sure that the times are entered in a format that Excel recognizes, such as “6:00 AM” or “18:00”. This will make sure that Excel can accurately calculate the difference between the two times.

Step 2: Subtract Start Time from End Time

In a new cell, subtract the start time cell from the end time cell.

When subtracting times in Excel, it’s important to ensure that the end time is always greater than the start time. If your end time is on the following day, you’ll need to add 24 hours to it to get the correct total hours.

Step 3: Multiply by 24 to Convert to Hours

Take the result from step 2 and multiply by 24 in a new cell to convert the result from days to hours.

Excel calculates time as a fraction of a day, so multiplying by 24 converts this fraction into a number of hours.

Step 4: Use INT Function if Necessary

Use the INT function to round down the total number of hours to the nearest whole number, if required.

This step is only necessary if you need a whole number for the total hours. If you need a more precise number, including minutes, you can skip this step.


Accurate Time TrackingCalculating total hours in Excel provides a precise number of hours worked, which is crucial for tasks like payroll or billing clients.
EfficiencyInstead of manually calculating hours, Excel does the work for you, saving time and reducing the chance of human error.
CustomizationExcel allows for customization, so you can set up formulas to suit your specific needs, whether that’s rounding hours, including breaks, or anything else.


Initial Learning CurveLearning how to set up and use the formulas correctly can take time, especially for Excel beginners.
Potential for ErrorsIf times are not entered correctly, or the AM/PM designation is omitted, it can lead to incorrect calculations.
Limited Without Further FunctionsOn its own, the formula only calculates total hours, and doesn’t account for breaks, overtime, or other variables unless additional functions are added.

Additional Information

When using Excel to calculate total hours, there are some additional tips and tricks that can make the process even smoother. For instance, you can format the cells where you input times to ensure they are always read correctly by Excel. You can also use other functions in conjunction with the total hours formula to calculate things like overtime or pay rates.

Remember, Excel is a versatile tool, and the total hours formula is just the beginning of what you can do with time tracking in this program. Explore the different functions, experiment with custom formulas, and see how you can optimize the process for your specific needs.


  1. Input start and end times in separate cells.
  2. Subtract start time from end time.
  3. Multiply the result by 24 to convert to hours.
  4. Use the INT function to round down to the nearest whole number, if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What format should I enter the times in?

You should enter the times in a format that Excel recognizes, such as “6:00 AM” or “18:00”.

What if the end time is on the next day?

If the end time is on the following day, make sure to add 24 hours to it before subtracting the start time.

How does Excel calculate time?

Excel calculates time as a fraction of a day, so multiplying by 24 converts this fraction into a number of hours.

Can Excel account for breaks or overtime?

Yes, but you’ll need to use additional functions or custom formulas to calculate these.

Is there an easier way to track total hours in Excel?

You can use templates or time tracking software that integrates with Excel for a more automated process.


Calculating the total hours formula in Excel is a skill that can be incredibly useful in various aspects of work and life. While it may take some initial learning to get the hang of it, once mastered, it can provide a level of efficiency and accuracy to your time tracking that you might have previously thought impossible.

As with any tool, the more you use it, the better you get. So, start experimenting with calculating total hours in Excel today, and see just how much simpler your time tracking can become.

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