In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the TODAY function in Excel, which is a useful formula for working with dates. The TODAY function returns the current date, which can be helpful in various calculations and data analysis tasks. We will cover the syntax, examples, tips and tricks, common mistakes, troubleshooting, and related formulae for the TODAY function.
The syntax for the TODAY 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 in that cell. The date format will depend on your system’s regional settings.
Let’s look at some examples of how the TODAY function can be used in Excel:
- Displaying the current date: To display the current date in a cell, simply enter the formula =TODAY(). The cell will show the current date, and it will update automatically each time you open the workbook or recalculate the worksheet.
- Calculating the number of days between two dates: If you have a start date in cell A1 and an end date in cell B1, you can calculate the number of days between these two dates using the formula =B1-A1. To calculate the number of days from the start date to today, you can use the formula =TODAY()-A1.
- Calculating a future date: If you want to calculate a date that is a specific number of days in the future, you can use the formula =TODAY()+n, where n is the number of days. For example, to calculate the date 30 days from today, you would use the formula =TODAY()+30.
- Calculating a past date: Similarly, to calculate a date that is a specific number of days in the past, you can use the formula =TODAY()-n, where n is the number of days. For example, to calculate the date 30 days ago, you would use the formula =TODAY()-30.
- Calculating the number of days until a specific date: If you have a target date in cell A1 and you want to calculate the number of days remaining until that date, you can use the formula =A1-TODAY(). This will give you the number of days between today and the target date.
TODAY Tips & Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the TODAY function in Excel:
- Formatting dates: You can format the date returned by the TODAY function using Excel’s built-in date formatting options. To do this, select the cell containing the TODAY function, right-click, and choose “Format Cells.” In the “Number” tab, choose “Date” and select the desired date format.
- Using the TODAY function with conditional formatting: You can use the TODAY function in combination with conditional formatting to highlight dates that meet certain criteria. For example, you could highlight cells containing dates that are within the next 7 days by creating a conditional formatting rule with the formula =A1-TODAY()<=7.
- Combining the TODAY function with other date functions: The TODAY function can be combined with other date functions in Excel, such as YEAR, MONTH, and DAY, to perform more complex calculations. For example, to calculate the number of months between today and a specific date, you could use the formula =DATEDIF(TODAY(), A1, “m”).
Common Mistakes When Using TODAY
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using the TODAY function in Excel:
- Entering the function as text: Make sure to enter the TODAY function as a formula by starting with an equal sign (=), like this: =TODAY(). If you enter the function without the equal sign, Excel will treat it as text and not return the current date.
- Using the TODAY function in a static calculation: Remember that the TODAY function updates automatically each time the workbook is opened or the worksheet is recalculated. If you need a static date that does not change, you should enter the date manually or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+; (semicolon) to insert the current date as a static value.
- Forgetting to format the date: The date returned by the TODAY function may not be displayed in the desired format by default. Make sure to format the date using Excel’s built-in date formatting options, as described in the “Tips & Tricks” section above.
Why Isn’t My TODAY Function Working?
If your TODAY function is not working as expected, consider the following troubleshooting steps:
- Check for typos: Make sure you have entered the formula correctly as =TODAY(). A typo or missing equal sign can cause the function to not work properly.
- Recalculate the worksheet: If the TODAY function is not updating to the current date, try recalculating the worksheet by pressing F9 or going to the “Formulas” tab and clicking “Calculate Now.”
- Check the cell format: If the date returned by the TODAY function is not displayed correctly, make sure the cell is formatted as a date. You can do this by right-clicking the cell, choosing “Format Cells,” and selecting the “Date” category in the “Number” tab.
TODAY: Related Formulae
Here are some related formulae that you may find useful when working with dates in Excel:
- NOW: The NOW function returns the current date and time. The syntax is =NOW().
- DATE: The DATE function allows you to create a date by specifying the year, month, and day. The syntax is =DATE(year, month, day).
- EDATE: The EDATE function returns a date that is a specified number of months before or after a given date. The syntax is =EDATE(start_date, months).
- WORKDAY: The WORKDAY function returns a date that is a specified number of workdays before or after a given date, excluding weekends and optionally holidays. The syntax is =WORKDAY(start_date, days, [holidays]).
- DATEDIF: 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), where unit can be “d” for days, “m” for months, or “y” for years.
In conclusion, the TODAY function is a versatile and useful formula for working with dates in Excel. By understanding its syntax, examples, tips and tricks, common mistakes, and related formulae, you can effectively use the TODAY function in your spreadsheets to perform a wide range of date calculations and analyses.