How to Convert Date to Text Without Losing Format

Have you ever found yourself eyeballing that annoying situation where converting a date to text throws all your formatting out of the window? Ah, the struggle is real, isn’t it?

In this tutorial, we dive into various methods to convert dates to text and ensure the original format remains.

Let’s get converting!

Why Converting Date to Text Matters

Retaining Data Integrity

When working with data in Excel, it’s crucial to maintain the integrity of date formats. Converting date to text without losing the format can be a valuable technique to protect your data from misinterpretation and errors.

When you import or export data from various sources like CSV files, databases, or web pages, you might encounter issues with date formats not recognized by Excel.

Excel dates are serial numbers that represent specific points in time, making it possible to convert them into text values using formulas. 

In the following section, I’ll show you how to protect your data’s integrity, ensuring that your date values will be preserved in their original format. This way, you can analyze your data without worrying about errors arising from improper dates in Excel.

Enhancing Data Presentation

When you create reports or dashboards in Excel, you may want to display the date values in a specific format that suits your needs and preferences.

For example, show only the month name, the day of the week, or the year. By converting date to text, you can customize the appearance of the date values and make them more readable and appealing.

Excel’s Default Date-to-Text Conversion

As I mentioned, when working with dates in Excel, it’s essential to understand that Excel stores date values as serial numbers representing the number of days since January 1, 1900.

For example, January 1, 2023, is stored as 44927. This allows Excel to perform operations and calculations with date values seamlessly.

When you enter a date value in a cell, Excel automatically applies a default date format based on your system settings. For instance, if your system uses the US date format (MM/DD/YYYY), Excel will display March 1, 2023, as 03/01/2023.

If you want to change this default date format, don’t worry; it’s pretty simple. Start by selecting the cell or cells containing the date values you’d like to change. 

Next, press Ctrl+1 to open the Format Cells dialog box. In the Number tab, choose Date from the Category list.

You’ll find yourself with a Type list where you can select the date format that suits you best. If none of the available formats fulfill your needs, you can create a custom date format by typing it in the same Type box. Finally, click OK to apply the changes.

Example of converting serial to dates

Remember that changing the date format doesn’t alter Excel’s serial number to store the date value. It only changes how this date value is displayed, ensuring your calculations remain accurate while providing an easy-to-understand format for you to work with.

Using Excel to Convert Date to Text without Losing Format

Using the Text Function

One easy method to convert dates to text in Excel without losing the format is using the Text function. To achieve this, follow the steps below:

  1. Type the formula =TEXT(value, format_text) where value refers to the date cell you want to convert, and format_text is the desired format enclosed in double quotes.
  2. If your date is in cell A2 and you want to maintain the date format as “mm/dd/yyyy,” your formula should be =TEXT(A2, “mm/dd/yyyy”).
TEXT function for convert date to text

Note: The format_text is sensitive to your regional settings. For example, if you’re in a region where the day appears before the month, use “dd/mm/yyyy” instead.

See this post for a complete list of custom date formats.

Utilizing Number Formats

A recap of the method above – use the custom formats to manipulate the cell’s number format containing the date. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the cell containing the date you want to convert to text.
  2. Select ‘Format Cells‘ from the context menu.
  3. In the ‘Category‘ list, choose ‘Custom.’
  4. In the ‘Type‘ field, enter the desired format, such as “dd – mmm” or any other relevant format.
  5. Click ‘OK‘ to apply your customized format, and the date will now appear as text in your chosen format.
Using Number formats for dates

Converting Time to Text Strings

You can also convert time to text strings in Excel using similar techniques. For instance, if you want to convert a time value to hours, minutes, and seconds, you can use the following formula:

=TEXT(value, “hh:mm:ss”)

Replace ‘value’ with the cell reference containing your time; the resulting text will display in the “hh:mm” format. This is also applicable for converting both date and time together, like so:

=TEXT(value, “mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss”)

Example of converting time to text strings

Additional Methods for Converting Date to Text

In this section, we will explore additional methods to convert date to text without losing the format in Excel. These methods include converting via Text to Column and converting Excel date to text via Notepad.

Converting Date to Text with Text to Column

One way to convert date to text without losing the format is using Excel’s Text to Column feature.

  1. First, select the column with the dates you want to convert.
  2. Click on the ‘Data’ tab and choose ‘Text to Columns’.
  3. In the Text to Columns Wizard, select Delimited and click Next.
  4. Clear all the delimiter options and click Next again.
  5. Choose Text as the column data format and click Finish.

The dates should now be converted to text while keeping their original format.

Convert Excel Date to Text Via Notepad

A simple workaround to convert Excel date to text without losing the format is to use good ol’ Notepad.

  1. In Excel, select the range of dates you want to convert to text.
  2. Press CTRL+C to copy the selected text.
  3. Open Notepad and press CTRL+V to paste the copied text.
  4. In Notepad, click File and choose Save As. Ensure the file type is set to All Files and save the file with a “.csv” extension.
  5. Reopen the CSV file in Excel.
  6. During the CSV import process, select the date column and choose Text in the Column data format section.

Your dates should be successfully converted to text while retaining their original format. Remember that some date formats can be stubborn, but the methods outlined in this section should help you convert them to text without losing their format.

Best Practices when Converting Date to Text

First and foremost, always back up your original data. This way, you can avoid potential data loss and have a fallback option if something goes wrong during the conversion process. 

Additionally, it’s important to avoid manual conversions when possible, as they’re prone to errors and can be tedious when working with large datasets. This applies to anything in Excel, really!

When dealing with date conversions, be wary of regional settings affecting the formatting. Different locales may use alternative separators, such as “.” or “/.” Ensure your conversions are consistent across the board by regularly reviewing and updating custom date formats.

Remember to keep your data organized and structured when handling date conversions.

By following these best practices and utilizing Excel’s built-in functions, you can ensure accurate and efficient conversions without losing the format.

Other FAQs

If needed, how do you revert or undo the date conversion to text in Excel?

Reverting a date that has been converted to text back into a date format can be achieved by using the DATEVALUE function.

Use =DATEVALUE(A1) where A1 contains the text-formatted date.

How can Excel’s TEXT function be integrated with other functions to create advanced, dynamic date-to-text conversions?

Try combining TEXT with TODAY(), like =TEXT(TODAY(), “MMMM YYYY”). This provides the current month and year as text.

Merging with other functions like CONCATENATE or utilizing “&” creates complex text strings, combining static text and formatted date text, enabling rich, dynamic data representation within Excel sheets.

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