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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Excel Tip: Capturing the current date and time

A reminder of a couple of looming deadlines before I get into today's post:

Firstly, tomorrow is the last day to complete the poll on which version of Excel you use. Please complete the poll (at the top right of the blog) so that I can understand what readers are using.

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OK, on with today's tip...

There are two ways you might want to capture and use the current date and/or time:

  • Referring to the current date and/or time in a formula;
  • Entering the current date or time in a cell
Referring to the current date and/or time in a formula

Excel offers two functions for this purpose.

The TODAY function evaluates to today's date and is entered as follows (it has no arguments):


The NOW function works similar to today, but also includes the current time.

If you want to know how Excel handles dates and times, take a look at my earlier post on the subject.

Entering the current date or time in a cell

Sometimes, however, it is not a dynamic reference to the the current date or time that you want, but to enter a fixed version of the current date or time into a cell. The following two shortcuts will allow you to do this:

Ctrl+;   this enters the current date in the active cell
Ctrl+: (i.e. Ctrl+Shift+;) enters the current time in the active cell

These are great for if you want to log, say, the start and end times of an activity as you do it.

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  1. You can apply both of the shortcuts at the same time into one cell to give you date & time in the same cell - the equivalent of =Now() but static.
    Ctrl+; first then Space then Ctrl Shift+; this would give you 29/04/2014 19:54 (system time at the time of key presses).
    You need to enter a space between shortcuts to improve readability and correct formatting. If you make the entries the other way around without a space, you get the wrong date!


    1. Thanks Steve. That's an excellent extension of the functionality!

    2. I created a Cell with =Now() and Cut and Past from it.