How to Make a Cell on Microsoft Excel With a Changing Date: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a cell in Microsoft Excel with a changing date is a handy tool for tracking dynamic data such as schedules, timelines, or deadlines. It’s simple to do—just insert a formula that updates the date automatically. With this quick overview, you’ll be ready to make your Excel spreadsheet more efficient and up-to-date.

After completing the action, the cell in your Excel sheet will display a date that automatically updates based on the parameters you set. No more manual adjustments needed; your cell will always show the current date, or any other date you program it to.


Excel is not just a tool for crunching numbers; it’s a versatile platform that can help organize our lives and work in various ways. One of the nifty tricks in Excel’s repertoire is its ability to handle dates dynamically. Think about it—how often do we need to keep track of dates in our personal and professional lives? From project deadlines to birthday reminders, having the current date at a glance can be incredibly useful.

This feature is particularly relevant for those who manage schedules, timelines, or any data that is tied to specific dates. Imagine you’re a project manager who needs to keep tabs on the project’s progress, or an event planner tracking the days until the big event. For these roles, and many others, an Excel cell that automatically updates its date can be a lifesaver. It ensures that the information you’re working with is always current, without the need for constant manual updates. Now, let’s delve into the steps to make this magic happen.

Step by Step Tutorial: Creating a Cell with a Changing Date

Before we jump into the steps, understand that you’ll be using Excel’s built-in functions to create a cell with a changing date. This will involve a bit of formula writing, but don’t worry—it’s easier than you think!

Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel and Select a Cell

Choose the cell where you want the changing date to be displayed.

Selecting the right cell is crucial because it’s where the date will be displayed and updated automatically. It’s like picking the perfect spot for a digital clock in your house.

Step 2: Enter the Formula for Today’s Date

Type the formula =TODAY() into the selected cell and press Enter.

This formula is the magic spell that tells Excel to display the current date in the cell. Once you press Enter, you’ll see today’s date pop up right away.

Step 3: Format the Date (Optional)

Right-click the cell, select ‘Format Cells’, and choose your preferred date format.

Formatting the date is all about aesthetics and readability. Just like choosing the font for a letter, you get to decide how the date will look in your cell.

Step 4: Use an Alternative Formula for a Different Date (Optional)

Instead of =TODAY(), you can use =DATE(year,month,day) to display a specific date that will update based on your inputs.

This alternative formula is for the Excel wizards who want more control over the date displayed. It’s like being the director of a play where the date is the lead actor.


Always Up-to-DateThe primary advantage of a cell with a changing date is that it ensures the date displayed is always current, reducing the risk of outdated information.
Saves TimeManually updating dates can be a tedious task. An automatic changing date frees up time for other important tasks.
Error ReductionAutomation reduces the chances of human error, such as forgetting to update the date or entering it incorrectly.


Limited CustomizationThe =TODAY() function is limited to the current date and doesn’t allow for displaying future or past dates without additional input.
Dependency on System DateThe changing date function relies on your system’s date settings, so if your computer’s date is incorrect, so will be the date in Excel.
Potential ConfusionFor shared documents, an automatically updating date might confuse other users who are unaware of the function’s implementation.

Additional Information

While the steps above outline the basic process for creating a cell with a changing date, there’s more to the story. Excel is a powerful tool with a plethora of functions and features that can further enhance your date cell. For instance, you can use conditional formatting to change the color of the cell based on the date, or link the changing date to other cells to trigger updates across your spreadsheet.

Another tip is to combine the changing date function with other Excel features, such as tables or charts, to create dynamic reports that update automatically. And for those who like to stay ahead of the curve, using the =TODAY() function in tandem with Excel’s forecasting tools can give you a glimpse into future trends based on today’s date.

Moreover, if you’re working on a shared document or a template that will be used by others, consider adding a note or comment to the cell explaining the changing date feature. This helps avoid confusion and ensures everyone is on the same page—quite literally.


  1. Open Microsoft Excel and select the desired cell.
  2. Enter the formula =TODAY() to display the current date.
  3. Optionally, format the date for preferred appearance.
  4. Use =DATE(year,month,day) for more control over the displayed date.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make the cell show a date other than today’s?

Yes, by using the =DATE(year,month,day) formula, you can set the cell to display any date you choose, which will still update dynamically based on the parameters you set.

Will the date update if my computer is off?

The date will update the next time you open Excel while connected to a time-updating service, such as the internet or a network time protocol.

Can I use this feature for time as well as date?

Yes! Instead of the =TODAY() function, use =NOW() to display the current date and time.

What happens if I copy the cell with the changing date to another document?

The formula will also be copied, and the date will continue to update in the new document.

Is this feature available in all versions of Excel?

The =TODAY() function is a standard feature available in all modern versions of Excel.


Making a cell on Microsoft Excel with a changing date is like giving your spreadsheet a little brain of its own—one that keeps track of time so you don’t have to. Whether you’re a project manager, a student, or just someone who loves to stay organized, mastering this small but mighty feature can make a big difference in how you handle dates and times in Excel.

Remember, it’s not just about saving time or reducing errors—though those are significant benefits. It’s also about leveraging Excel’s capabilities to make your data more dynamic and, consequently, more valuable. So, go ahead and give it a try; your spreadsheets will thank you. And if you ever get stuck, just remember the simple formula =TODAY()—it’s your key to a date that always stays fresh.

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

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