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How to display / show negative time properly in Excel?

Some of us may suffer this problem, when you subtract a later time 12:20 from an earlier time 10:15, you will get the result as ###### error as following screenshots shown. In this case, how could you show negative time properly and normally in Excel?

doc-show-negative-time1-2doc-show-negative-time2

Display negative time properly with changing Excel's Default Date System

Display negative time properly with Formulas


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arrow blue right bubbleDisplay negative time properly with changing Excel's Default Date System


Here is an easy and quick way for you to display the negative time normally in Excel by changing the Excel's Default Date System to 1904 date system. Please do as this:

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1. To open the Excel Options dialog box by clicking File > Options in Excel 2010/2013, and clicking Office Button > Excel Options in Excel 2007.

2. Then in the Excel Options dialog box, click Advanced from the left pane, and in the right section, check Use 1904 date system under When calculating this workbook section. See screenshot:

doc-show-negative-time1

3. After finishing the settings, click OK. And the negative time will be displayed correctly at once, see screenshots:

doc-show-negative-time1-2doc-show-negative-time2


arrow blue right bubbleDisplay negative time properly with Formulas

If you don’t want to change the date system, you also can use the following formula to solve this task.

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1. Input your dates that you want to calculate them, and enter this formula =TEXT(MAX($A$1:$A$2)-MIN($A$1:$A$2),"-H::MM") (A1 and A2 indicate the two time cells separately) into a blank cell. See screenshot:

doc-show-negative-time1

2. Then press Enter key, and you will get the correct result as following shown:

doc-show-negative-time1

Tip:

Here is another formula also can help you: =IF(A2-A1<0, "-" & TEXT(ABS(A2-A1),"hh:mm"), A2-A1)

In this formula, A2 indicates the smaller time, and A1 stands for the larger time. You can change them as you need.


Change Sige of Vlaues (quickly change negative to positive values, or vice versa...)

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    JeteMc · 2 months ago
    Thank You!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    shalene · 1 years ago
    i have a date from someone elses file showing as "20171229" i need it to look like "12/29/2017".. PLEASE HELP!
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      John M · 1 years ago
      =date(left(A1,4),mid(A1,5,2),right(A1,2)
      Where A1 is the cell containing the date.

      The new cell will contain an excel date value for that day,
      right click the new cell, and select the date format you want.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    JS · 2 years ago
    I have a negative time value in a cell, say CQ15. [ i got the value using the above mentioned formula =IF(A2-A1<0, "-" & TEXT(ABS(A2-A1),"hh:mm"), A2-A1) ]

    Next, I'm trying to multiply the cell value with 5, ie. CQ15*5.
    But not getting any result.
    I have tried both the following formulas:
    =TEXT(CQ15*5, "[h]:m:ss")
    &
    =IF(CQ15*5<0, "-" & TEXT(ABS(CQ15*5),"[h]:m:ss"),CQ15*5)

    In both cases, i received #VALUE!

    Can anyone please help me with this.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      KulGery · 2 years ago
      Couse CQ15 is a text cell. For calculate with it, you must format it as time value.
      =IF(LEFT(CQ15,1)="-", -TIMEVALUE(RIGHT(CQ15,LEN(CQ15)-1)), TIMEVALUE(CQ15))
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    bo ek · 2 years ago
    thank you so much! You just saved my day!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Meg · 2 years ago
    I am trying to calculate a negative formula for shift time not fully worked. Say data is as follows:
    A1 = 07:30 shift start, minus
    A2 = 1:00 lunch break
    A3 = 16:30 shift ends
    Then A4 = 8:00 hours worked during the day.
    But, should the worker leave earlier, say 17:00, what is the formula in cell A5 that shows how much short the person's shift was?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Marc Kupper · 2 years ago
      [quote name="Meg"]I am trying to calculate a negative formula for shift time not fully worked. Say data is as follows:
      A1 = 07:30 shift start, minus
      A2 = 1:00 lunch break
      A3 = 16:30 shift ends
      Then A4 = 8:00 hours worked during the day.
      But, should the worker leave earlier, say 17:00, what is the formula in cell A5 that shows how much short the person's shift was?[/quote]

      You can't directly display a negative time in Excel. However, you can display it using the TEXT() function. For example

      Cell A4 would have =A3-A1-A2 which will display the hours/minutes worked.
      Cell A5 would have 8:00 which is the number of hours you expect this person to work
      Cell A6 would have =IF(A5=A4,"Met expected target",IF(A4
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    MND · 4 years ago
    "Tip:

    Here is another formula also can help you: =IF(A2-A1
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Ralf · 4 years ago
    If you switch to 1904 all dates in the workbook change. Not a solution. What is this 1904 thing anyway?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Marc Kupper · 4 years ago
      [quote name="Ralf"]If you switch to 1904 all dates in the workbook change. Not a solution. What is this 1904 thing anyway?[/quote]

      The 1904 format comes from Excel version 1.0 which was on the Macintosh. Two years later Microsoft released Excel for Windows and with with that release introduced the "1900" date format. Excel for the Mac continued to default to the 1904 format and Windows defaults to the 1900 format. Both versions can switch to the other format but doing so will cause all dates in a workbook to shift.

      The year 1900 was special in that though it's divisible by 4 it was not a leap year. The Mac's clock hardware did not have the extra logic needed to handle this special case and so Apple simplified the design by allowing for dates from 1904 (the first leap year in the century) on out. As Excel was first written for the Mac it was natural that Excel would use the Mac's date format.

      The developers of Excel for Windows used the 1900 format for backwards compatibility with SuperCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 which were the dominate spreadsheet applications in the MS-DOS and Windows markets at the time.

      The 1904 and 1900 formats are nearly identical. The 1904 format stores dates as the number of days since 1/1/1904 and the 1900 format is the number of days since 1/1/1900. You can convert a 1904 date to a 1900 date by adding 1,462 to a cell's value and subtracting 1,462 to convert the other way.

      Apparently the developers of Excel for the Mac included code to support negative time values. The coders of Excel for Windows did not support negative time values. Modern versions of Excel still include two separate chunks of code with one dealing with 1904 dates and the other for 1900 dates. They never fixed the 1900 code to support display of negative time values.
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        Ralf · 4 years ago
        Thanks for the history lesson, Marc. Much clearer now how it came to this. Still leaves me wondering about your last sentence: "They never fixed ..." I don't get it. Would it be so hard to fix? So I still need to use Libre Office for two things: negative times and CSV export. Must be exotic niche features ...
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    sk · 4 years ago
    Hello, any idea of how to do sum of negative hours which are in hh:mm format?


    for example
    -01:00 is at A1 column, -02:00 is at A2 column, -03:00 is at A3 column.
    I used "if" command to sum up the three columns (A1,A2,A3) but showing 0:00
    if command "if(A1:A3
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      ExelWizard · 2 years ago
      Couldn't you just multiply the numbers by -1 to start, add them up then multiply by -1 again?