There are two easy-to-remember functions in Excel 2010 that should be in all Excel analysts repertoire. With a wide array of uses in reporting and Excel dashboard creation let me introduce you to them…
The Today() function
If you ever need Excel to show the current date then the easiest way is to use the today function. It is simple to remember as it takes a basic format of:
The result in Excel shows the current date in DD/MM/YYYY format (assuming that you are using UK settings in Excel).
There are multiple uses for this function and only limited by your imagination a couple of ideas to get you started might be:
- Inserting the current date in an Excel dashboard. This can make an Excel dashboard appear more like a website which some users appreciate.
- Calculating the days difference between a point in time and the current date. For example if you wanted to work out how many days remain before a deadline then you could use the Today() function as part of a formula, that way every time the worksheet is opened it would automatically recalculate the exact number of days before the deadline is due.
The NOW() function
Taking things a step further you can also output the current date and time using a very similar function which takes the format:
The result of this function is the current date and time displayed as DD/MM/YYY HH:MM (again depending on your personal settings).
Again there are multiple uses for this if you need to get into time calculations or have a time critical dashboard to build but generally find that for most of your needs the current date, obtained with the ‘Today’ function will suffice.
Two quick and easy functions that every Excel user should have in their memory bank are:
They can be used on their own as a visual reporting aid on dashboards but they can become extremely useful in building bigger formulas that have a need to calculate day or time differences, especially useful in building countdowns to deadlines into reports.