As almost all the regular computer users are aware of, MS Excel is one of the most useful applications in the Microsoft family. If MS Word is useful for making documents, and the application of MS Power Point is helpful in making office presentations of any kind, MS Excel with its variety of functions is a spreadsheet program that helps in storing alpha-numeric data in a tabular format.

Beyond the typical uses of Excel, there is a worksheet function in the software application that calculates the difference between two dates, which is known as DATEDIF. It not only merely computes the difference between two dates but also calculates the difference in a variety of different intervals like the number of months, years or days between the dates. This DATEDIF function is often regarded as the drunk cousin of the Formula family. It is there in all the versions of Microsoft Excel but is not documented in any of them except in Excel 2000.

Using the Microsoft Excel Date Difference Function

Using the MS Excel Date Difference Function is no rocket science and doesn’t require anything special for accessing it. You can go through the following instructions to use it.

Step 1: First of all, you need to know the syntax for the DATEDIF function that is ‘=DATEDIF(Date 1, Date 2, Interval)’

Step 2: The Excel cell references must be used to the cells containing your dates for replacing Date1 and Date2.

Step 3: One of the following values must be chosen for the interval argument in the DATEDIF function:

y – that represents the number of complete years.

m – that represents the number of complete months.

d – that represents the number of days.

md – that represents the difference between the days (where months and years are ignored).

ym – that represents the difference between the months (where days and years are ignored).

yd – that represents the difference between the days (where years and dates are ignored).

Step 4: When you enter the interval value into the formula, you need to surround it with quotes.

Step 5: A fine example of the Excel DATEDIF function in use is ‘=DATEDIF(A2,B2,’m’). In this example the DATEDIF function would return the difference between the dates in complete months, in A2 and B2.

Step 6: Now you can try it out for yourself by typing two different dates into two cells in Excel. To get most from the exercise, try to make them more than a year apart and then enter the DATEDIF formula in another cell. Work your way through all of the intervals by starting with ‘y’, and then proceeding with ‘m’, ‘d’, ‘md’ or ‘yd’. By doing this, you will understand the function a lot better.

As understood from the above, the function is fairly simple to use and apply. No matter whether you are new to the Microsoft family or a seasoned professional, this one can be of use to one and all and helps you to get better acquainted with Excel.