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Monday 16 July 2012

EXCEL TIP: Finding the month end

Here is a useful tip for finding the month-end from a transaction date

I often have a need to identify the month-end date relating to a particular transaction during the month, i.e. we have the date of the transaction and need to return the date of the month-end.

NB: Most businesses in my experience tend to use calendar months for accounting periods these days, however some (particularly in manufacturing) still have month-ends on a particular day of the week. My tip below will only work for calendar months, but I may cover irregular month-ends in a future post (hint, you will need VLOOKUP).

Another NB: It has been pointed out to me by a number of readers (see James Travers comment below) that there is a quicker solution than that outlined below for users of Excel 2010. It uses a function which I didn't know was there as I didn't need it, having an approach that served me well in earlier versions. In Excel 2010, you can use =EOMONTH(A1,0), where A1 contains the transaction date. The method below is still worth knowing as you will need it if a file has to be accessed by earlier Excel versions. It also uses a number of techniques for manipulating dates that you can use for other purposes.

Here we can use an interesting and very useful feature of the DATE function, along with the YEAR and MONTH functions.

The DATE function returns a date given the year month and day, and is entered as follows:


so =DATE(2012,7,16) returns 16th July 2012 (in whatever date format you have set for the cell).

The YEAR, MONTH and DAY functions work the other way, in that they pull out the year, month and day numbers respectively from a date, so if cell A1 contains the date 16th July 2012, =YEAR(A1) will return 2012.

We could use this to pull out a particular day of the month from any transaction, so if we wanted to return the 25th day of the month of the transaction (where the transaction date,16th July 2012, is held in cell A1), we could use:


which would return 25th July 2012.

However, the actual month-end day obviously varies between the 28th and the 31st. This is where the useful quirk of the DATE formula comes in. Day zero of the month is the last day of the previous month, so

DATE(2012,8,0) returns 31st July 2012.

We can therefore amend the DATE formula above to provide the month end for the transaction date in A1,  to provide:

The Answer:


And don't worry, those of you who are seeing a potential problem around the year end, when MONTH(A1) equals 13. The month formula works in a similarly useful way, so that month 13 of 2012 is month 1 of 2013, so:

=DATE(2012,13,0) returns 31st December 2012 or even;

=DATE(2012,15,25) returns 25th March 2013.

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  1. Or, certainly in 2010 use =Eomonth(start_date, months) with 0 for the number of months...

  2. James

    Well spotted. That function isn't there in earlier versions of Excel and I haven't looked for it in 2010, as I didn't need it, given that I had a solution that worked.

    I will amend the post to reference this.

    Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

  3. EOMONTH is in my version of Excel 2007 as a standard feature. It has actually been around quite a while. In earlier versions, you needed to activate the Analysis TookPak via the Tools menu in order for it to work. EDATE works similarly for moving a cell date forward (or back with a negative parameter) a given number of months.

  4. Thanks John

    I've since found out that it is in the Analysis Toolpak in Excel 2003. However, as I am often developing a spreadsheet to run on multiple versions of Excel for clients, the more I stick to standard features the better.

  5. I couldn't agree more. In pre-2007 days, I lost count of the number of times I had to remind users to activate the Analysis TookPak when they encountered #NAME? errors.

  6. Could you please help me with this?: the pay day is on the 25th of each month except when that is a Saturday/Sunday (so for example for November 2012 it should show November 23rd. Thank you

  7. Anonymous

    If we put the weekend issue aside, then if the date we are referencing is in cell A2, the formula =DATE(YEAR(A2),MONTH(A2),25) would work.

    What we need to do to deal with the weekend is replace the 25 with a nested IF statement that returns 24 if the 25th is a Saturday, 23 if the 25th is a Sunday, otherwise it returns 25.

    We can use the WEEKDAY function to return the WEEKDAY of a date.

    The default setting for the WEEKDAY function is that it returns 1 through 7 for Sunday to Saturday. We could change this by adding a second argument but we don't need to for this purpose, so the formula:


    will return a 7 if the 25th is a Saturday and 1 if it is a Sunday. We now have all of the building blocks we need.

    The formula required is then:


    If you need some help on the IF function take a look at my earlier post at:

    I hope that helps.