In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the Excel formula NOW, which is a useful function for working with dates and times. The NOW function returns the current date and time, which can be helpful in various scenarios, such as tracking deadlines, calculating durations, or simply displaying the current date and time in a spreadsheet. This article will cover the syntax of the NOW function, provide examples of its use, share tips and tricks, discuss common mistakes, troubleshoot issues, and introduce related formulae.
The syntax for the NOW function is quite simple, as it does not require any arguments. The formula is as follows:
When you enter this formula into a cell, Excel will automatically display the current date and time, based on your computer’s system clock. The result will be formatted as a date and time, such as “01/01/2022 12:00:00 PM”.
Here are some examples of how the NOW function can be used in Excel:
Example 1: Displaying the current date and time
To display the current date and time in a cell, simply enter the NOW function:
Example 2: Calculating the duration between a specific date and the current date
If you want to calculate the number of days between a specific date and the current date, you can use the following formula:
=NOW() – A1
In this example, cell A1 contains the specific date you want to compare with the current date. The result will be the number of days between the two dates.
Example 3: Calculating the age of a person
To calculate a person’s age based on their date of birth, you can use the following formula:
=INT((NOW() – A1) / 365.25)
In this example, cell A1 contains the person’s date of birth. The result will be the person’s age in years.
NOW Tips & Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the NOW function:
Tip 1: Formatting the result
By default, the NOW function returns the date and time in the format “mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss”. If you want to display only the date or time, you can change the cell’s format. To do this, right-click the cell, select “Format Cells”, and choose the desired format under the “Number” tab.
Tip 2: Updating the result automatically
The NOW function updates the result every time the worksheet is recalculated. To force a recalculation, press the F9 key on your keyboard. This will update the current date and time displayed by the NOW function.
Tip 3: Combining NOW with other functions
You can combine the NOW function with other Excel functions to perform more complex calculations. For example, you can use the TEXT function to display the current date and time in a custom format:
=TEXT(NOW(), “dddd, mmmm d, yyyy hh:mm:ss AM/PM”)
This formula will display the current date and time in a format like “Sunday, January 1, 2022 12:00:00 PM”.
Common Mistakes When Using NOW
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using the NOW function:
Mistake 1: Using NOW as a static value
Remember that the NOW function is volatile, which means it updates every time the worksheet is recalculated. If you need a static date and time value that does not change, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + ; (semicolon) to enter the current date and time as a static value.
Mistake 2: Incorrectly calculating durations
When calculating durations using the NOW function, be aware that the result may include fractions of a day. To display the result in a more readable format, use the INT function to round down the result, or apply a custom number format to display the result in days, hours, minutes, and seconds.
Why Isn’t My NOW Function Working?
If your NOW function is not working as expected, consider the following troubleshooting steps:
Issue 1: Incorrect cell formatting
Make sure the cell containing the NOW function is formatted as a date and time. If the cell is formatted as text or a number, the result may not display correctly.
Issue 2: Worksheet not recalculating
If the NOW function is not updating the current date and time, make sure your worksheet is set to recalculate automatically. To check this, go to the “Formulas” tab in Excel, click “Calculation Options”, and ensure “Automatic” is selected. If you want to manually recalculate the worksheet, press the F9 key on your keyboard.
NOW: Related Formulae
Here are some related Excel functions that you may find useful when working with dates and times:
The TODAY function returns the current date without the time component. The syntax is:
The DATE function returns a date based on the specified year, month, and day. The syntax is:
=DATE(year, month, day)
The TIME function returns a time based on the specified hours, minutes, and seconds. The syntax is:
=TIME(hour, minute, second)
The DATEDIF function calculates the difference between two dates in various units, such as days, months, or years. The syntax is:
=DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, unit)
The EDATE function returns a date that is a specified number of months before or after a given date. The syntax is:
By mastering the NOW function and its related formulae, you can efficiently work with dates and times in Excel, making your spreadsheets more dynamic and informative.