Beginner’s Guide: How to Change Default Date Format in Excel


Firstly, Microsoft Excel, recognized globally as a staple in business and data analysis, is a powerful tool with a myriad of functionalities that help simplify tasks and enhance work efficiency. One such critical functionality is its date format, helping users manage and track data chronologically. However, Excel’s default date format may not always align with your needs, so being adept in customizing the date format can significantly streamline your tasks.

Understanding Default Date Format in Excel

What is the Default Date Format?

The default date format in Excel is determined by your computer’s regional settings, typically displayed as ‘month/day/year’ in the United States. In contrast, the format appears as ‘day/month/year’ in many other countries.

How It Works

When you input a date in an excel cell, the application recognizes this information and automatically applies the default date format. For example, if you input ‘5/4/22’, Excel would interpret it as 5th April 2022 (or 4th May 2022 based on regional settings).

Steps to Change Default Date Format in Excel

Detailed Overview of the Process

Modifying the date format to match your requirements is a straightforward process in Excel. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to achieve this:

Select the Cells Containing the Dates

First, using your cursor, highlight and select the Excel cells housing the dates you wish to change.

Open the Format Cells Dialog Box

On the main menu, follow this path: Home > Number Group and click on the ‘More Number Formats’ option. This should open the Format Cells dialog box.

Select the Desired Date Format

In the “Format Cells” dialog box, select the ‘Date’ category and then choose your preferred date format from the available options.

Apply Changes

Click ‘OK’ to implement your changes.

How to Create Custom Date Format in Excel

Excel also allows you to create and use your custom date format. Follow the steps below to create a custom date format:

Open the Format Cells Dialog Box

Similar to changing the default date format, go to Home > Number Group > More Number Formats to open the dialog box.

Choose the Custom Category

From the ‘Category’ list in the Format Cells dialog box, select ‘Custom’.

Input the Desired Format Code

In the ‘Type’ box, write your desired format code. For example, for a format such as ‘Day-Month-Year’, you would input ‘dd-mmm-yy’.

Apply Changes

Lastly, click ‘OK’ to apply your new custom date format.

Tips and Tricks to Modify Date Format in Excel

At times, you may experience challenges when altering the date format in Excel. Here are a few tips to help you navigate these issues:

Identify Common Problems When Changing Date Format

A common challenge occurs when Excel does not recognize the input as date data. In such cases, Excel may automatically format the input as text.

Provide Solutions and Recommendations

To prevent the above issue, ensure you have correctly entered the date. Always input the full year (e.g., ‘2022’ instead of ’22’) to assist Excel in recognizing date data.

Share Useful Tips and Tricks to Manipulate Date Format Easily

Using keyboard shortcuts can expedite the process. For instance, you can use “Ctrl + 1” to open the Format Cells dialog box quickly.

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Effect of Changing Date Format on Excel Functions

Explaining the Impact of Format Change on Excel Calculations Involving Dates

Changing the date format may affect calculations where date is a variable. Hence, take note of the formatting throughout your worksheet to avoid incorrect results.

Providing Examples of Functions Affected by Date Format Change

Functions like ‘TODAY()’, ‘NOW()’, or ‘DATE()’ can return different values based on the date format.

How to Handle Such Impacts

Ensure consistency in the date format throughout your spreadsheet to maintain accuracy in your calculations.

How to Maintain the Default Date Format Changes

To save your changes, consider creating a custom template. Templates in Excel save your formatting preferences and can be reopened with the same settings, saving you time on repetitive tasks.


Managing, understanding, and changing date formats in Excel is crucial for effective data management. With the steps shared in this tutorial, you can easily modify the default date format or generate a custom one to suit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Default Date Format in Excel Based On?

The default date format in Excel is based on your computer’s regional settings.

Why Might I Need To Change The Default Date Format in Excel?

Reasons to change the date format could range from personal preferences to geographical location, workflow demand, or the requirements of a particular project.

Are There Any Risks and Issues Associated with Changing the Default Date Format in Excel?

The primary risk is related to data accuracy. Incorrect date formats could potentially lead to mistaken data interpretation or inaccurate calculations.

Can I Use a Custom Date Format in Excel?

Yes, Excel allows you to create and use your custom date format.

How Can I Save My Default Date Settings for Future Spreadsheets?

You can save your default date settings by creating and saving them as a custom template. You can then use this template for future spreadsheets.

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