Switch Between Date and Serial Values in MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

MS Excel formats date and time values in a way that is meaningful to us, such as 12/01/08; December 1, 2008, 2:15 p.m., 12/01/08, 14:15, etc. With just a quick glance, we know precisely what the date and time string represents, but internally MS Excel uses a serial value, not the formatted value that we see.

When working with time and date values, it can be very beneficial to know the serial value and Excel makes it easy for us to have a quick look and see.

Follow the steps below to learn how:

  • Enter some date and time values:   Click CTRL + ; to enter the current date.  
  • Click CTRL + Shift + ; to enter the current time.  
  • Click CTRL + ; then Spacebar, then CTRL + Shift + ; to enter the current date and time.  
  • Click CTRL + ~ (the tilde key).  
  • To view the serial values for each date and time value, simply click CTRL + ~. When you are finished, click CTRL + ~ again to return to normal view.

MS Excel will automatically adjust the column width for both views.

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