Excel Subtract Datetime: How to Calculate Time Differences

August 21, 2023 1.8K views

Over time, Excel datetime functionality has become more essential due to time-based events, date calculations, and data analysis. Excel is a powerful tool that performs various functions such as project management, scheduling, financial modeling, data-driven tasks, etc.

Excel subtract datetime function is a versatile tool for many applications, including enhancement of data analysis and time management capabilities. Users can calculate the duration between two events, track progress over time, and automate calculations. Using the Subtract Datetime function, we can save time, reduce errors, and make informed decisions based on accurate and reliable information.

In this article, we will introduce Excel subtract datetime and how we can use it. Moreover, we will recommend a perfect software to subtract datetime.

Part 1. What is Subtract Datetime in Excel?

In Excel, subtracting datetime is a fundamental operation that allows you to calculate the time difference between two specific points. As one of the many functions available, it plays a crucial role in various scenarios. People can use this function to calculate durations, track time intervals, manage project schedules, analyze trends, and generate insightful reports. By employing the Excel subtract datetime function, Excel users can efficiently handle temporal data and make informed decisions based on time-related insights.

Part 2. How to Subtract Datetime in Excel?

We will describe in detail Excel subtract datetime based on different conditions/scenarios.

Below is a step-by-step tutorial on how to subtract time in Excel based on different conditions:

Scenario 1: Subtracting Two Date Values

Step 1: Open WPS Excel and Go to the Home Tab.

Step 2: Select Cell ‘A2+B2’ and choose the ‘more number formats’ from the dropdown menu as mentioned in the above screenshot and highlighted with step 3.

Step 3: Choose the highlighted format of the date and click the ok button.

Step 4: Enter the two date values you want to subtract in separate cells. For example, let's say you have the start date in cell A2 and the end date in cell B2.

Step 5: In an empty cell where you want the result to appear, enter the following formula to count days: =B2 - A2

Step 6: We are getting the total number of days in the C2 cell as the format of Cell is General, representing the number.

Step 7: Similarly, if we change the format from General to Date of C2, we will get the following result.

Scenario 2: Subtracting Dates to Calculate Year Duration.

Step 1: If you want to calculate the duration (in years) between two dates, you can simply subtract one date from the other, as mentioned in the screenshot;

Step 2: Copy formula =YEAR(B2)-YEAR(A2) and paste in D2 to calculate the total years. (‘YEAR’ is an additional word with a negative operator)

Step 3: Excel will provide the years between the two dates (33 Years).

Scenario 3: Subtracting Two Date Values to Calculate Months

Step 1: If you want to subtract two date values, you can use the DATEDIF function to get the month's difference.

Formula: =DATEDIF($A2,$B2, "M")

Step 2: Simply paste the formula into the E2 cell to get the total months.

WPS Excel will show the month difference between the two dates.

Scenario 4: Handling Negative Date Values

Step 1: When subtracting values, the end date is earlier than the start date), Excel will display negative values.

Step 2: To handle negative time values, you can write the old date first and then the end date; otherwise, you will get the same result but with negative values.

With the above mentioned methods, you can effectively subtract datetime values in Excel based on different conditions and achieve accurate results for various time-related calculations.

Part 3: Best Alternative Choice - WPS Office

WPS Office is free and the best alternative to Microsoft Office, making it an excellent choice for users on a budget and reliable for performing datetime calculations. Therefore a suitable choice for individuals and businesses.

Moreover, it provides a wide range of datetime functions, such as DATEDIF(), DATE(), and arithmetic operators, enabling us to perform various datetime calculations efficiently.



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1. How do I subtract datetime values and display the result in a specific time unit?

Suppose you want Excel subtract datetime values and display the result in a specific time unit. In that case, you must simply subtract the two datetime cells using the subtraction operator and multiply the result by the appropriate conversion factor. To get the result in hours, multiply by 24 (since one day = 24 Hrs). Format the cell containing the formula as required (e.g., as a number or time format), and it will show the time difference in the desired time unit.

2. Can I subtract datetime values and get the result in decimal format?

Yes, you can subtract datetime values in Excel and get the result in decimals. Whenever you subtract two datetime values, Excel represents the result as a decimal number, where the integer part represents the number of days and the decimal part represents the fraction of a day (time). This format allows you to work efficiently with time intervals and durations numerically for various calculations and analyses.

3. How can I subtract datetime values and exclude the time component?

To subtract datetime values and exclude the time component in Excel, you can use the DATE function to extract only the date part from each datetime value before performing the subtraction. For example, if you have the start datetime in cell A1 and the end datetime in cell B1, you can use the following formula in a separate cell:


This formula will give you the time difference between the two datetime values in days, excluding the time component. The DATE function helps you focus solely on the date values and ignore the time portion, providing a clear and accurate result for your calculation.

Excel Subtract Datetime - Wrap-Up

Overall, the guide in this article is a helpful resource for anyone who needs to calculate time differences in Excel, whether for personal or professional reasons. Now, users can perform Excel Subtract datetime function without hesitation by following this tutorial.

Last, WPS Office provides a reliable and affordable alternative to Microsoft Excel to help you achieve your goals. It offers a user-friendly interface and a comprehensive set of functions. As WPS Office is a powerful tool, it has advanced features for users, such as manipulation of data, creation of charts/graphs, and complex calculations in Excel Spreadsheets. You can download WPS Office for free from its official website.

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