If there is one skill you have to learn that will really make a different to the quality of your Excel work, it is learning to use custom number formatting. Here is one example.
It often happens that I have a list of dates against which data are going to be entered, but I would like to see the weekday as well (this will help me with the data entry).
An example is shown in Figure 1. My traditional approach, which is evident there, was to add a column and use the formula =TEXT(B3,”DDDD”) or =TEXT(B3,”DDD”) to show the day.
Figure 1 Column to show day of week
About a year ago, I thought to myself that this extra column was really unnecessary, and that I should try to remove it. My immediate thought was to try and combine the date and day in the Date column, and I realised immediately that the only way for me to do that would be with custom number formatting. I knew that dates are stored in Excel as a serial number counting from 1 January 1900 (albeit with one intentional error—see here as well for some more info, and note Microsoft’s “diplomatic” choice of words!). So, for example, the date in cell B3 (2015-01-01) in Figure 1 is stored as the serial 42005. The display of the date is added with cell number formatting. So then the thought came to me that I could try using two different date-style custom number formats in one cell together, and it worked.
So the date format already added by Excel is yyyy/mm/dd, and I decided to try something like ddd yyyy/mm/dd, as seen in Figure 2, which also shows the result in column B (and I have already deleted the “Weekday” column which was in column C). the ddd format tells Excel to show the cell value in the short day format—I could also use dddd for the full day.
Figure 2 Adding a custom number format to show both day and date
That’s a simple change, but it is very effective. Now I only need the date column, and don’t have to copy down additional values in the next column to keep up to date with it, if you will excuse the pun.