Join Dennis Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Using TODAY and NOW functions for dynamic date and time entry, part of Excel 2013: Working with Dates and Times.
Excel has two different built in functions that allow you to enter today's date and also today's date and time in a way that the entry will be dynamic. In other words, it will change as you open and close and save a file. - and open it on different days, and at different times of the day. If you type equal today, and as you type this, it does not have to be upper-case, and you can simply put in a simple left parenthesis, and then press enter, and you will have today's date. So, at the time of recording it's February 3rd 2014.
The function, now, equal NOW, left parenthesis, will give us the date and time. In this style here now you can certainly leave the display that way, or change it if you wish by going into various formatting options. Now, these are dynamic in a number of different ways. First of all, if we sit and stare at this, nothing will happen. As we do make changes in worksheet however, and look back over here depending on how much time has change, this will be altered. In other words, it is dynamic. Now, we're not going to worry about this of course, but if I type in a number over here and press enter.
Maybe that time will have changed by now, maybe not. It now says 10:47 instead of 10:46. It does, by the way, answer a question that some people have when they ask, why is it, with certain files, I open them, I just take a look at the data, don't make any changes. And yet, when I try and close it, I get a prompt that says, do you want to save your changes. If you have either of these functions in use, whether you actively make changes to those cells or not, they're changing anyway. So if we open and close a file that has either the Today function, or the Now function in it, excel in effect, goes to your system clock and puts in that information, even if it's the same day.
Or if it's within the same minute. So that answers that question, what, what's going on here? Now, in some situations, you can use these with other functions too. If you are tabulating a column for age, you want that to be changing all the time, and you can use the today function to provide today's date as a source of reference for that. Because every time you use this function, you are getting the current day. And with the now function, you're actually getting the date and the time together. I'll make one change here. If I only wanted to display the time here, I could go to format cells.
Can get there quickly by way of a right-click, and go to Format Cells, and consider some of the many different ways to display this as a time, if you only wanted to display this as a time. Could possibly use a combination here under date where it shows both of those together in different kinds of ways too. So, good methods of storing information from time of day. Now, I haven't made a change to the content here in the last minute or so, so that 10:47 is still staying the same. But once again, if I put in a number or make a change over here, let's put in a number here, now that's 10:49.
Again, you don't keep an eye on it like that usually as you work with it. So both of these tools are really handy for putting in dates and times in a dynamic way that you could also use in formulas, along with other functions as you work with Excel.
- Understanding how Excel records and stores dates and times
- Looking at standard date and time entry options and acceptable alternatives
- Using the TODAY and NOW functions
- Customizing date formats
- Using keyboard shortcuts
- Formatting time for hours over 24
- Calculating differences across dates and times
- Calculating the day of the week
- Working with holidays
- Validating dates
- Converting formatted dates to usable data