How to Use the Google Sheets Date Formula: A Step-by-Step Guide

Google Sheets is an incredibly powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data, and one of its most useful features is the ability to work with dates. Whether you’re tracking deadlines, scheduling events, or analyzing time-based data, knowing how to use the Google Sheets date formula can save you time and effort. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to use this formula to make your spreadsheets even more functional.

Step by Step Tutorial: Using the Google Sheets Date Formula

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to accomplish. The Google Sheets date formula allows us to input, format, and calculate dates. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to insert current dates, calculate the difference between dates, and much more.

Step 1: Insert Current Date

To insert the current date into a cell, type =TODAY().

This function will automatically populate the cell with today’s date. It’s dynamic, which means it will update each day to always display the current date.

Step 2: Calculate the Difference Between Two Dates

To find the number of days between two dates, use the formula =DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, "D").

Replace “start_date” and “end_date” with the appropriate cell references or dates. The “D” in the formula stands for “days,” and it will return the number of days between the two dates.

Step 3: Add or Subtract Days to a Date

To add or subtract a certain number of days to a date, use =date + days or =date - days.

Simply replace “date” with the cell reference containing the date and “days” with the number of days you want to add or subtract. This is useful for calculating deadlines or future events.

Step 4: Format Dates

To format dates, select the cell or range of cells, then go to Format > Number > Date.

This will apply the default date format, but you can click on “More Formats” to choose from a range of options or create a custom format.

After you complete these steps, your Google Sheet will be equipped to handle a variety of date-related tasks, making your data management more efficient and effective.

Tips for Using the Google Sheets Date Formula

  • Remember to use quotation marks around the date format codes in formulas.
  • Use the =NOW() function to insert the current date and time.
  • For international date formats, use =TEXT(date, "DD-MM-YYYY") to convert them.
  • If you need to calculate workdays only, use the =NETWORKDAYS(start_date, end_date) function.
  • Always double-check your formulas for accuracy, especially when working with dates, as small errors can cause big problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the =TODAY() and =NOW() functions?

=TODAY() inserts the current date without the time, while =NOW() includes both the current date and time.

How can I prevent the =TODAY() function from updating?

You cannot stop the =TODAY() function from updating, as it is designed to always show the current date. If you need a static date, simply type it into the cell manually.

Can I use the date formula to calculate months or years between dates?

Yes, by changing the “D” in the =DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, "D") formula to “M” for months or “Y” for years.

How do I format a date to include the day of the week?

Use the =TEXT(date, "DDDD, MM/DD/YYYY") formula to include the day of the week in the date format.

Is there a way to calculate the age using the date formula?

Yes, use =DATEDIF(birth_date, TODAY(), "Y") to calculate the age in years from a birth date.


  1. Insert the current date using =TODAY().
  2. Calculate the difference between two dates with =DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, "D").
  3. Add or subtract days to/from a date using =date + days or =date - days.
  4. Format dates through the Format menu.


Mastering the Google Sheets date formula can elevate your data management game to a whole new level. From keeping track of important deadlines to analyzing time-based data trends, the ability to manipulate dates is a skill that can significantly boost your productivity. Plus, with these step-by-step instructions and additional tips, you’re now well-equipped to handle any date-related tasks that come your way.

While it might seem complex at first, once you get the hang of using these formulas, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different date functions to see what works best for you. And if you ever get stuck, the Google Sheets help center is just a few clicks away, filled with resources and guides to assist you.

So go ahead, give it a try, and watch as the Google Sheets date formula transforms your spreadsheets into organized, dynamic, and time-savvy masterpieces. Happy spreadsheeting!

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