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Three Useful Calendar Functions

Today, we will be going over three very useful functions that deal with dates in spreadsheets. The three functions that will be covered are listed below.

  • TODAY
  • YEAR
  • MONTH

These three functions are not terribly complicated, but they certainly have their uses! (By the way, these functions are available for use in both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.)

If you aren’t so convinced, we will be going over each function, how it works, and just how it can be useful for you too!

Function No. 1 – TODAY

This function is one of the simplest functions you will ever use. All you have to do is enter the function into any cell, and that cell will then contain the numerical value of the current date.

Fun Fact – Dates are stored as numbers in spreadsheets.

In Microsoft Excel, the number one is equivalent to January 1, 1900.

In Google Sheets, the number one is equivalent to December 31, 1899.

– Ryan Morton

It’s true, all you have to enter is what you see below:

=TODAY()

It’s really that simple!

Why is TODAY useful?

The TODAY function is useful because there are many cases where you need to have access to the current date in other formulas you write.

For example, let’s say that you want to calculate how many days there a between now and The 4th of July. (You want plenty of time to buy enough fire works after all.)

You would need to know the value of the current date to calculate this number. This is where TODAY comes in handy.

Function No. 2 – YEAR

This function isn’t quite as simple as the TODAY function, but it is still very easy to use.

This function requires one argument in order to work properly.

An argument is simply a value that is required as an input to the function. This value can be hard coded (typed in manually), or it can come from another cell in the form of a reference.

The argument that is required specifically for the YEAR function is any date value. Once the function receives this value, it will calculate the year value of whatever date it is provided.

Let me give you an example below:

=YEAR(02/15/2022)
=2022

As you can see, this function will always yield the year value of whatever date is entered into the function as an argument.

Why is YEAR useful?

We only have about 80 to 100 years here on this earth, so every year is pretty darn useful!

The YEAR function is also useful because sometimes a year value is needed for summations and counts. Here’s one example.

Let’s say over the past five years, you’ve read 362 books and also included a completion date for each book. Now you would like to know how many books you happened to read this year only. This is where the YEAR function would come in handy.

You would use the YEAR function multiple times in order to calculate the year in which each book was completed. You would then be able to count up the books with a year value equivalent to the current year.

If for some reason you want to also calculate the current year, you could combine the YEAR and TODAY function like this:

=YEAR(TODAY())

This would immediately give you the current year!

Function No. 3 – MONTH

This function is just like the YEAR function. The only difference is that it will result in a number between 1 and 12 to represent the month of the provided date value (the argument) rather than the year.

  • 1 = Jan
  • 2 = Feb
  • 3 = Mar
  • etc…

Just like the YEAR function, the MONTH function requires one argument, and that argument can be any date value. Here is another example to illustrate how it works.

=MONTH(02/15/2022)
=2

In this example, the MONTH function results in a 2, and the number 2 is a representation of the month February.

Why is MONTH useful?

Just like the YEAR function, the MONTH function can also be useful or sums and counts.

Revisiting our previous example, if you would like to know how many books you read last year in the month of March, you would use both the YEAR and MONTH function to help you out.

You would use the MONTH function to calculate the month for each book completion date, and you would use YEAR to calculate the year. You would then count based on which have entries have a year equivalent to last year as well as a month value of 3.

This would give you a count of the books you completed in March of last year.

As you can see, these three functions are simple in nature, but they are extremely useful as well.

If you have any questions, you are invited to leave a comment below. Also, if you have any suggestions of other functions your would like to be covered in future posts, please let us know. We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

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