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How to Calculate Number of Months between Two Dates in Excel

August 3, 2023 5.5K views

Discover the untapped potential of Excel's Months Differences Calculator. Unravel its secrets effortlessly as we guide you through simple yet powerful techniques, ensuring efficient and accurate calculations. Empower your productivity and conquer new frontiers with ease, or explore the realm of possibilities with WPS Office - your free and convenient alternative. Journey with us and embrace the transformative world of data-driven success.

Part 1. How to Calculate Difference of Months for Two Dates in Excel

Calculating the difference of months between two dates in Excel is a fundamental skill for various tasks, from project management to financial analysis. Excel offers multiple methods to achieve this, each suited for specific scenarios.

Use Subtraction

Subtraction is a straightforward method to calculate the difference in months between two dates. However, it requires the end date to be greater than the start date to avoid negative results. It is suitable for scenarios where you need a quick calculation without the need for complex functions.

Step 1: Start by entering your two dates in separate cells. For example, let's say Date 1 is in cell A2 and Date 2 is in cell B2.

Step 2: In an empty cell, enter the formula to calculate the difference:

=(B2 - A2) / 30

The reason we divide by 30 is because a typical month has approximately 30 days. This approximation is used to convert the days into months.

Step 3: Press Enter to get the result, which will be the difference in months between the two dates.

Use DATEDIF Function

The DATEDIF function is specifically designed to calculate the difference between two dates in various units, including months. It works well for scenarios where you want a simple and direct formula to obtain the months difference, but you need to ensure the correct sequence of start and end dates to avoid errors.

Method 1

Step 1: Follow the same step as before, and make sure Date 1 is in cell A2 and Date 2 is in cell B2.

Step 2: In a different cell, use the DATEDIF function to calculate the difference:

=DATEDIF(A2, B2, "m")

The syntax for DATEDIF is DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, unit). Here, "m" represents months.

Step 3: Press Enter to get the result, which will be the difference in months between the two dates.

  • Note: The end date must always be larger than the start date for the DATEDIF function to compute months correctly; otherwise, the formula returns the #NUM error.

Method 2

To count the number of months between two dates as if they were of the same year, you can use the "YM" unit in the DATEDIF formula:

=DATEDIF(A2, B2, "ym")

Use MONTH Function

Method 1

If all of your dates are from the same year, or you wish to compute months between dates without considering the year, use the MONTH function to extract the month from each date, and then subtract one month from the other:

=MONTH(B2) - MONTH(A2)

This formula works similarly to the Excel DATEDIF with the "YM" unit.

Method 2

An alternative way to calculate the number of months between two dates in Excel is using the MONTH function, combined with the YEAR function:

Step 1: Ensure Date 1 is in cell A2 and Date 2 is in cell B2.

Step 2: In another cell, extract the months from both dates using the MONTH function:

=MONTH(B2) - MONTH(A2) + 12 * (YEAR(B2) - YEAR(A2))

This formula calculates the difference in months while considering the year as well.

Step 3: Press Enter to get the result, which will be the difference in months between the two dates.

This formula can compare any two dates and return the difference in months as either a positive or negative value.

  • The MONTH formula has no trouble computing months in row 3 if the start date is more recent than the end date, however the DATEDIF formula fails in this case.

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FAQs

1. Why Isn't My DATEDIF Working?

To fix DATEDIF issues in Excel, ensure valid date values and format, use correct unit arguments, confirm date order (start_date

2. Why is my DATEDIF function returning a date instead of an integer?

If the DATEDIF function is returning a date instead of an integer, it is likely because the cell containing the formula is not formatted correctly. By default, Excel returns date values as dates, and if the cell is formatted as a date, the result will display as a date. To fix this, format the cell containing the DATEDIF formula as a number or general format to display the result as an integer.

3. What are the limitations of the DATEDIF function?

The DATEDIF function has a few limitations:

It may give incorrect results when the end date is earlier than the start date, and it may return a #NUM! error in such cases.

It does not account for leap years when calculating the difference in years.

The function is not available in all versions of Excel, although it is widely supported in most versions.

4. Can I calculate months between dates in non-consecutive cells?

Yes, you can calculate months between dates in non-consecutive cells. Simply reference the appropriate cells containing the start_date and end_date in the formula, regardless of their location on the worksheet.

Summary

Mastering Excel's date calculation techniques is crucial for efficiency in data-driven tasks. This article explored methods like subtraction and the DATEDIF function to calculate months differences. While subtraction requires end dates to be greater, DATEDIF has limitations with earlier end dates. Combining MONTH and YEAR functions offers flexibility.

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