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Excel Formulas

TODAY Function in Excel: Explained

In this article, you will learn to use the TODAY function in Excel.

What is the TODAY function in Excel?

The TODAY function in Excel is used to reflect the current date. Also, since TODAY is a volatile function it will update every time the workbook is opened or a change is made in the worksheet, so the date will always stay current.

When is the TODAY function useful in Excel?

The TODAY function in Excel is helpful when you need to display the current date and work with other date-related situations. Some examples include:

  1. Tracking Deadlines or Due Dates: You can use the TODAY function in a formula to calculate the number of days remaining until a deadline or due date.
  2. Project Management: In combination with other date functions, the TODAY function can be used to build project timelines and monitor progress.
  3. Financial Analysis: You can use the TODAY function to determine the number of days between two dates for interest calculations or for calculating depreciation.

Remember, the TODAY function will update automatically each day, so it's perfect for providing real-time data in your spreadsheets.

How to use the TODAY function in Excel

The TODAY function requires no arguments and the syntax is as follows:


An example of using the TODAY function could be in finding what the date is 5 days from now, the syntax is the following:


Some other ways to utilize the TODAY function is by using it as an argument in other functions. For instance, if you wanted to find the current month of the year, you would type out the following:


Below is a screenshot of further examples of using the TODAY function.

Examples of how to use the TODAY function in Excel

What is the difference between Excel's TODAY, NOW, and DATE functions?

The TODAY, NOW, and DATE functions in Excel all deal with dates and times, but they are used for different purposes:

  • The TODAY function returns the current date. It does not include time information. The function does not take any arguments. For example, if today's date is May 18, 2023, =TODAY() would return 5/18/2023.
  • The NOW function returns the current date and time. Like the TODAY function, it does not take any arguments. For example, if the current date and time is the evening of May 18, 2023, =NOW() would return something like 5/18/2023 8:35 PM (the exact time will depend on when the function is evaluated).
  • The DATE function allows you to create a specific date. It takes three arguments: the year, the month, and the day. For example, =DATE(2023, 5, 18) would return 5/18/2023.

The TODAY and NOW functions are volatile, meaning they update every time the worksheet recalculates, while the DATE function is not. With this in mind, there may be situations where you would rather use a non-volatile date for certain calculations.

Formatting of dates in Excel

The date format that the TODAY function will return is dependent on your system's date settings, however, this can be customized to your choosing. You can do this by right-clicking the cell in which the date is displayed and clicking “Format Cells”. For example, you can display the date as MM/DD/YYYY or in words with MMMM D, YYYY. 

Go to the page LiveFlow‘s How to Guides to find more information about Excel and Google Sheets formulas and tips that were not covered here.

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