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Using dates prior to 1900 in Excel

Posted on 2014-10-16
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Last Modified: 2014-10-30
Hello,

Since the Windows date system begins with # 1 on January 1, 1900, can negative numbers be used for dates in the 1800's and earlier? If not, is there a workaround or add-on which enables earlier dates to be used in Excel charts & formulas, etc?

I began adding 2000 to all years whenever dates prior to 1900 are present in a range of values. Then, I would just need to remember to subtract 2000 whenever the date was to be displayed. I think that's accurate considering the rules for leap year but doing that is a couple of extra steps and it would be nice if there is a simpler way to handle that situation.

Thanks
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Question by:WeThotUWasAToad
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7 Comments
 
LVL 81

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byundt earned 1000 total points
ID: 40385990
VBA will support negative numbers as dates, but Excel worksheets will not.

Your workaround of adding 200 years is fine, as long as you take note of the fact that Excel worksheet recognizes February 29, 1900 as a Leap Day (to be compatible with Lotus 123), while VBA knows that there is no Leap Day that year.

Entertaining story describing the origin of VBA in Excel. Of particular note is the discussion on dates.
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LVL 26

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by:ProfessorJimJam
ProfessorJimJam earned 1000 total points
ID: 40386241
@WeThotUWasAToad

there is a free add-in by John Walkenbach that solves your problem, check the link below.


http://j-walk.com/ss/excel/files/xdate.htm
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Phillip Burton
ID: 40386341
Generally, you should only increment in groups of 28 years. That's because, with the leap days, if 1 January 2000 is a Saturday (which it is), then so will 1 January 2028, and 1 January 2056. You can't guarantee it if you don't jump to the similar cycle in the future.

Just to add to byundt's point, February 29, 1900 did not in fact exist, so VBA is right and Excel is wrong.
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:Rob Henson
ID: 40386411
There was no 29 Feb 2000 either.

As you are no doubt aware, leap years occur every 4 years except for centenary years.

The addition of a day every 4 years would add 25 days per century but the movement of the planets only needs 24, hence no leap year in centenary years.

Thanks
Rob
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Phillip Burton
ID: 40386461
You need a new 2000 calendar - There was a 29 Feb 2000!

The movement on the planets actually needs about 24.25, so there is a leap day every 400 years.
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:Rob Henson
ID: 40386478
Indeed there was, apologies I rearranged what I was writing and ended up writing it wrong.

Thanks for the correction.
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Author Closing Comment

by:WeThotUWasAToad
ID: 40414287
Thanks for the insights & suggestions.
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