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Difference between two times in Excel
Excel can carry out calculations using date and time information in order to find the difference between two times.
It does this by storing the time as a decimal of the serial number for the 1 January 1900. For example the time 12:00 midday would be stored as 0.5.
To enter times so they use the serial number, type the hours and minutes separated by a colon using the 24 hour clock (eg 13:30).
To subtract times create a formula:
= later time - earlier time
Note that Excel does not normally display negative times because that would take the date before 1 January 1900. Excel just displays a series of hashes as the result in the cell.
But suppose in a project you wish to calculate:
Actual time - Planned time
A way to display the time as a negative is to use the 1904 starting date system. In Excel 2010, select File, Options, Advanced. From the When Calculating this Workbook section, tick Use 1904 Date System.
The only issue with doing this is if your workbook is linked to another workbook using the 1900 date system, then the dates retrieved by the link would be incorrect. Otherwise the negative time calculations would be correct.
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Have you ever wondered how a date is actually stored in Excel? This article describes how Excel stores dates and covers an example of how this can be used in calculations.
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