Microsoft Excel reader tip: Simple and elegant date conversions

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

In response to the August Technology Q&A topic "Dating Problems, Part 3" (page 85), reader Daniel Warco, CPA, (controller for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in Washington) sent me a better solution than the ones I had ­suggested. As a reminder, the Excel question involved converting two-digit-year, text-based numbers into four-digit-year, date-based numbers. I presented five possible solutions, all of which were fairly complicated. Daniel said that you can simply add 1 and then subtract 1 from the two-digit-year, text-based number and then apply four-digit-year date formatting to convert the number to a four-digit-year, date-based number, as pictured below.


This tip works because the process of adding 1 and then subtracting 1 converts the
text-based date to a numeric-based date, and previously I did not know that. (Thanks, Daniel. I plan to teach this tip in my next Excel course, and I'll act as if I've known about it my entire life.)

About the author

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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