How To Change Date Format In Excel (Easy Guide)

Excel recognizes dates as numbers, which might cause confusion when working with date formats. Understanding how Excel’s date system works is crucial before modifying date formats. This easy guide will help you understand Excel date formats and practical methods to customize them according to your needs.

Built-in Methods to Change Date Formats

Excel stores dates as numbers, representing the number of days since January 1, 1900, and the numbers can be formatted to display as dates. To change date formats using built-in methods, Excel provides two main options:

  • Format Cells dialog: To access this, simply right-click on the cell containing the date and select “Format Cells” from the context menu. In the Format Cells dialog box, navigate to the Number tab, choose “Date” from the Category list, and select the desired date format.
  • Ribbon options: Under the Home tab, navigate to the Number group where you’ll find a dropdown menu labeled “Number Format.” Click on the dropdown menu, select “Date,” and choose from the available date format options.

By leveraging these built-in methods, you can easily modify date formats in Excel without the need for complex formulas or scripts.

Troubleshooting and Tips

Here are some additional techniques and suggestions to help you manage and resolve any date format problems:

  • Copying/Pasting date format issues: When copying and pasting dates from different sources, the pasted cells might not inherit the correct format. After pasting, apply the desired format by accessing the Format Cells dialog or using the Ribbon options.
  • Regional settings and locales: International data may have date formats that differ from your computer’s regional settings. You can adjust your system’s regional settings to match the desired format or use custom date formats in Excel to display the dates correctly.

By leveraging these tips and resolving common issues, you can successfully manage date formats in Excel and customize your spreadsheets to fit various requirements.


Excel offers several built-in methods to modify date formats, including the Format Cells dialog and Ribbon options. Understanding how Excel recognizes dates as numbers and learns to work with built-in and custom date formats will make it easy to manage and present your data efficiently. With these skills at your disposal, you will be better equipped to handle any date formatting challenges that may arise in your future spreadsheet projects.