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How to display / show negative time properly in Excel?

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2020-04-27

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?


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

Display negative time properly with Formulas

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:

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:


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


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.

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:


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



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.

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Comments (18)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
The problem I'm having with this negative time solution - is that the spreadsheet with the negative also has a lot of cells with dates in it, so when I Tick 1904 Date System - This adds 4 years to the dates.... is the only remedy for this to go and manually change all those dates?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I used the formula =IF(A2-A1<0, "-" & TEXT(ABS(A2-A1),"hh:mm"), A2-A1) to calculate the difference between times and it fixed my problem, so thank you! However, now I have another problem, I need to add together the results. So for example, if I have three different times I need to add up (as a result of the formula): -00:00:05, -00:00:10 and 00:00:03. So 2 negative times and 1 positive in this example. How can I have a formula that will calculate (-00:00:05) + (-00:00:10) + (00:00:03) = -00:00:12?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi, Ayolice, place the positive time in cell E1, and place the negative time in cell E2 and E3, then use this formula =TEXT(MAX($E$1:$E$3)-MIN($E$1:$E$3),"-H::MM:SS")
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank You!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
i have a date from someone elses file showing as "20171229" i need it to look like "12/29/2017".. PLEASE HELP!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
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.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
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.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Couse CQ15 is a text cell. For calculate with it, you must format it as time value.
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