Excel Time Difference

You will discover that Microsoft Excel has several functionalities to deal with time-related computations effectively. Project management, scheduling, or general tracking are among the scenarios where people may be required to calculate Excel time differences as part of their jobs. The following are steps on how to calculate the difference in Excel:

Step 1: Make sure your time format is correct

Before doing any calculations, it’s necessary to ensure that you have formatted the time in your Excel sheet correctly.

You can do this by:

Highlight the cells with the time data.


Click the right mouse button and select Format Cells from a pop-up menu.


Then, choose the Time option from a list of Categories on the Format Cells dialog box.

Excel Time Difference

Select an appropriate timing style desired (for instance, use ’13:30:55’ for hours, minutes as well as seconds) then press ‘OK’.

Step 2: Calculate the Excel Time Difference

Simple arithmetic operations can be used to compute Excel time differences for properly formatted time data.


For instance, if you have the following time values in A1 and B1 of a worksheet and want to know their difference:

A1: 9:00 AM

B1: 1:30 PM


To find the difference between these times:

In empty cell C1; where you should input this formula,

=B1 – A1


This formula subtracts A1 from B1 giving you the time difference.


Step 3: Format the Result

After applying the Excel time difference formula, the result might not be formatted as time automatically. You may need to format the cell displaying the difference as a time format as well.

Select the cell containing the calculated difference (e.g., C1).


Right-click and choose “Format Cells” from the context menu.


In the Format Cells dialog box, select “Time” from the Category list.


Choose the desired time format and click “OK.”

Additional Tips:

Negative values: a negative result implies that the time earlier is greater than the time later.

Custom Time Formats: You can customize the formats of time in Excel to align with your style. For example, you might want to show the difference between times in hours, minutes, and seconds or decimal hours format.

Following these steps makes it easy for you to calculate time differences in Excel and modify the results for improved readability and analysis.