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Excel dates off by 4 years

Posted on 2011-02-21
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have been sent an Excel file which contains some dates in 2 columns.  On visual inspection, the date values are correct in the sense that someone's date of birth matches a record we already have for them.

However, when I process the spreadsheet (using an ASP script but this also happens with a simple copy and paste to a new spreadsheet), the dates are all changed by 4 years and 1 day smaller.

The format of the column shows the expected DD/MM/YYYY (British English) format and locale - the file originated in the Republic of Ireland.

I'm at a loss as to how this can happen and how I can correct it for the future.
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Question by:OwenParry
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6 Comments
 
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Accepted Solution

by:
Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE) earned 1000 total points
ID: 34941864
Hello,

It would help if you stated your Excel version.

In Excel 2003 and younger, go Tools > Options > Calculation tab > uncheck "1904 date system"

In Excel 2007 and later go Office button/File > (Excel) Options > Advanced > scroll down to "When calculating this workbook" and uncheck "use 1904 date system"

cheers, teylyn
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Author Closing Comment

by:OwenParry
ID: 34941900
Many thanks - just the thing
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LVL 45

Expert Comment

by:patrickab
ID: 34941915
OwenParry,

The chances are the original dates were entered using Apple's base date which was 1904 (the first day that is supported is January 1, 1904) rather than Excel's normal base date of 1900 (the first day that is supported is January 1, 1900) - thus the difference of 4 years.

Ref: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/180162

Patrick
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LVL 45

Expert Comment

by:patrickab
ID: 34941924
ps. The difference of 4 years and a day is accounted for by leap years - or absence of them - plus the different datal systems.
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Author Comment

by:OwenParry
ID: 34941936
Thanks - we don't support Macs here so none of us had come across the difference.
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LVL 45

Expert Comment

by:patrickab
ID: 34941952
>Thanks - we don't support Macs here so none of us had come across the difference.

I understand that however Excel can work with either datal system as teylyn has indicated in comment ID:34941864.

Patrick
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