How to Set a Date Range in Excel

By Darrin Koltow

Being able to set date ranges for Excel lets you perform calculations on dates as you do other numbers. Performing such calculations is necessary when you need to determine a due date given a start date and the number of days in a date range. To set a date range in Excel, you can format the cells containing the start and end dates as dates, then use the "-" and "+" operators to calculate the range duration or the ending date.

Set Start and End Dates

Step 1

Click any cell in an Excel spreadsheet, then click the "Home" tab. Click the "Short date" item from the dropdown list in the "Numbers" panel. This tells Excel to display the number you entered in the cell as a date.

Step 2

Type any date in the cell you just formatted, in this format "m/d/yyyy." For example, type "1/1/2001."

Step 3

Use the instructions from step 1 to format the cell two columns to the right of the first cell you formatted. Type the ending date of your range in this cell.

Step 4

Click in the cell that's in between the two cells containing your dates, then click the "=" sign to tell Excel that you're entering a formula instead of a number or text. Click the cell with the ending date, the press "-" to indicate a subtraction calculation.

Step 5

Click the start date, then press "Enter." Excel will enter the number of days between the start and the end dates.

Set Start Date and Duration

Step 1

Click a cell in a spreadsheet, then click the "Home" tab's "Short date" item in the "Numbers" panel.

Step 2

Type the starting date of your range. For example, type "1/1/2001."

Step 3

Click the cell immediately to the right of your start date, then type the number of days you want for your date range. For example, if your range spans three days, type "3" in the cell.

Step 4

Use the instructions from steps 1 to format the next cell to the right as a short date. Press "=" to indicate a formula, then click the start date's cell, followed by pressing "+."

Step 5

Click the cell to the left, then press "Enter." Excel will calculate the ending date of your range, by adding the start date to the number in the cell to the left, which is the number of days in your range.