How to Find Number of Days Between Two Dates in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Calculating the number of days between two dates in Excel is a handy skill to have, especially when dealing with project timelines, billing cycles, or planning events. The process is straightforward and can be accomplished with a simple formula. After reading this brief overview, you should be able to find the number of days between two dates in Excel with ease.

Step by Step Tutorial: Finding the Number of Days Between Two Dates in Excel

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to note that this tutorial will guide you through using a formula that automatically calculates the days between two dates.

Step 1: Enter the Start Date

Type in the start date in a cell within your Excel spreadsheet.

Entering the start date is the initial point from which you will be calculating the number of days. Ensure that the date is entered in a format that Excel recognizes, such as MM/DD/YYYY or DD/MM/YYYY, depending on your regional settings.

Step 2: Enter the End Date

Type in the end date in another cell within your Excel spreadsheet.

Similar to the start date, the end date marks the point up to which you wish to calculate the days. Again, make sure it’s in an Excel-recognized date format.

Step 3: Use the DATEDIF Function

In a new cell, type in the formula =DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, “d”) and press enter.

The DATEDIF function is specifically designed to calculate the difference between two dates. The “start_date” and “end_date” are the cell references where you’ve entered the dates, and the “d” stands for “days,” which tells Excel to return the number of days.

Once you complete the steps above, Excel will display the number of days between the two dates you’ve entered. This result updates automatically if you change the start or end dates.

Tips: Mastering Date Calculations in Excel

  • Always double-check that the dates are in a format that Excel can recognize.
  • Remember that Excel treats dates as serial numbers, with January 1, 1900, as serial number 1.
  • Use the DATEDIF function for a simple subtraction of dates that gives you the total days in between.
  • To exclude the start date from the calculation, you can simply add 1 to the formula.
  • If you need to calculate working days specifically, consider using the NETWORKDAYS function instead.

Frequently Asked Questions: Excel Date Calculations

What date format should I use in Excel?

Dates should be entered in a format that Excel recognizes, typically MM/DD/YYYY or DD/MM/YYYY.

Can Excel calculate the time between two dates and times?

Yes, Excel can calculate the difference between two dates and times by using the same DATEDIF function and including time in your start and end date cells.

How do I exclude weekends from my date calculation?

To exclude weekends, you can use the NETWORKDAYS function instead of DATEDIF.

Can I calculate months or years between dates in Excel?

Yes, by changing the “d” in the DATEDIF function to “m” for months or “y” for years, you can calculate the number of months or years between two dates.

What if my date calculation returns a negative number?

A negative number means your end date is before your start date. Check to make sure your dates are entered correctly.


  1. Enter the Start Date
  2. Enter the End Date
  3. Use the DATEDIF Function


Mastering the calculation of the number of days between two dates in Excel can save you a ton of time and hassle, especially if you’re juggling multiple projects or deadlines. As you’ve seen, it’s not rocket science—just a simple formula that does the trick. And with the additional tips and answers to common questions, you should be well on your way to becoming an Excel date calculation whiz. Just remember, Excel is a robust tool with numerous functions to explore. So don’t stop here; keep experimenting, keep learning, and you’ll find that Excel can handle much more than just finding the number of days between two dates. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new function that’ll make your work even easier! Now, go ahead and give it a try—your projects, clients, and plans will thank you for it.

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