How Do I Insert a Dynamic Date in Excel?

By Jenny Hansen

Excel 2013 has hundreds of functions, but Date and Time Functions are some of the most widely used. Since Excel stores dates as numbers, many Date functions are math-based, such as NETWORKDAYS which calculates the number of work days between two dates. Dynamic date functions, like the NOW function, return the current date and time. Other dynamic date functions will return different types of information so it's beneficial to explore the entire Date and Time category of functions.

Inserting a Dynamic Date

Step 1

Click "Date and Time" on the Formulas tab to reveal the list of common functions.

Step 2

Choose "TODAY" from the drop-down list. This function returns _only_ the current date.

Step 3

View the formula bar or the active cell to verify the function, which should read: "=TODAY()." Clicking "OK" in the Function Arguments dialog box inserts the function into the active cell. Dialog box messages for dynamic functions display: "Formula Result = Volatile." In Excel-speak, that means a function re-calculates along with the worksheet. Dynamic functions like TODAY and NOW are *volatile*.

Inserting a Dynamic Date and Time

Step 1

Click "Date and Time" on the Formulas tab to reveal the list of common functions.

Step 2

Choose "NOW" from the drop-down list. This function returns the current date _and_ time.

Step 3

View the formula bar or the active cell to verify the function, which should read: "=NOW()." Clicking "OK" in the Function Arguments dialog box inserts the function into the active cell.

Tips & Warnings

  • Although the TODAY and NOW functions need no arguments, other Date and Time Functions may. These arguments might reference start and end dates from two different cells, as you would with NETWORKDAYS, or use numbers and calculations like you would with the MONTH function.
  • A completed NETWORKDAYS function reads:
  • NETWORKDAYS(start_date, end_date, [holidays])
  • The first two arguments, "start_date" and "end_date" are required. The final argument, "Holidays," is an optional range of holiday dates that you can list and reference. The function automatically calculates these holidays as excluded dates when counting the available workdays for this formula. Be sure to enter all the dates used in the function as dates, rather than as text, to avoid complications.
  • You can change the format of a cell's date and time by pressing "Ctrl-1" or by clicking "Format" on the Home tab and choosing "Format Cells."