How to Insert Dates in Excel Automatically (3 easy tricks)

Autofill Cells with Dates in Excel

While working with dates in Excel, we often have to take a large number of dates as input. It is quite troublesome to sit down and insert so many dates manually. But with a few tricks in Excel, we can avoid this troublesome act and insert dates automatically. Today I will be showing some of the approaches to achieve that.

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The Base Way to Insert and Format a Date in Excel (A Review)

Let us have a look at this dataset. We have a list of the Names of Candidates for an upcoming interview in Rennata Group. We have to insert dates for their interviews in the Interview Date column.

A Dataset in Excel

Here is a short reminder of how you can insert and format a date manually.

Select the cell and write a date in the conventional way, DD/MM/YYYY. This may vary depending on where you live.

Then click Enter. You will find Excel automatically accept it as a date. Here I select cell C4 and write a date, 20/05/2020. 

Inserting a Date Manually in Excel

Now you can change the format of the date as you wish. Select the cell and go to the Home>Date option in the Number Section of the Excel Toolbar.

Number Format Option in Excel Toolbar

Click on the drop down menu attached with it. You will get some options. Select the last option, More Number Formats.

Number Format Options in Excel

Then you will get a dialogue box called Format Cells. There you will find the Date option is marked in the Category box. From the Type box, choose the format you want.

Format Cells Dialogue Box in Excel

How to Insert Dates in Excel Automatically

1. Inserting Single Date by Excel’s DATE() Function 

Excel, intuitively, provides us with a function called DATE(). It takes three arguments, Year, Month and Day. Then provides the date as output.

For example, DATE(2020,12,23) = 23-12-20.

In order to write down any date with this function rather than manually, select the cell and insert the formula =DATE (Year, Month, Day). Then click Enter. You will find Excel turns it into a date automatically. I select C3 and write =DATE(2020,08,05).

Date Function in Excel

Then if you wish, you can change the format of the date by the method provided earlier.

2. Inserting Single Date by TODAY() and NOW() Function

2.1 TODAY()

You can write today’s date in any cell by Excel’s TODAY() function. It does not take any argument. Just select the cell and write =TODAY(). You will find the cell filled with today’s date.

I select cell C4 and write =TODAY(). As today is June 22, 2021, the cell is filled with the date 22-06-21.

TODAY Function in Excel

Then if you wish, you can change the format of the date using the method mentioned earlier.

Note 1: You can use your keyboard shortcut to apply the TODAY() function. Select the cell and press Ctrl + ;.

Note 2: TODAY() function does not update automatically. That means, when one day will increase and the date will be June 23, the cell will contain June 22, not June 23. It will contain the date of when it was inserted until you change it.

2.2 NOW()

The NOW() function provides Today’s Date along with the Present Time as output. It also does not take any argument.

To use this function, select the cell and write =NOW(). Then see what happens.

NOW Function in Excel

By default, the output of the NOW() function is in Custom format. But if you want to change the format of the cell, follow the steps provided earlier.

Note 1: You can use your keyboard shortcut to insert NOW() function. Press Ctrl + ;. Then press Space. Then Press Ctrl + Shift + ;.

Note 2: Like the TODAY() function, the NOW() function does not update automatically.

3. Inserting Multiple Dates Automatically

Let’s think the first date of the interview has been inserted manually or by DATE() function or by any other way. Now we want to insert dates for the rest of the candidates automatically. There are 2 tricks you can use to do that.

3.1 Autofill Dates by Dragging the Fill Handle

Move your mouse on the Bottom Right corner of the first cell and you will get a small Plus(+) sign. This is called Fill Handle.

Fill Handle in Excel

Drag it down the column, up to the cell you want to fill. And you will find all the cells filled with increasing dates one by one. Now if you want to fill the cells any other way rather than increasing one by one, click on the small square box in the Bottom Right corner of the last cell. See the image below.

Dragging Fill Handle in Excel

And you will get these options.

Excel date insert

By default, you are in the Fill Series option. It fills the cells one by one with increasing dates.

Now if you want to fill the cells with weekdays only, click on Fill Weekdays. The cells will be filled with upcoming weekdays (taking Saturday and Sunday as weekend, by default)

Inserting Only Weekdays in Excel

If you want to insert dates with changing the months only, click on Fill Months. It will change the months one by one keeping the day fixed.

Inserting Only Months in Excel

You can even fill the cells by changing the years only, keeping the day and the month fixed. Click on Fill Years.

Inserting Only Years in Excel

Thus you can insert dates in the cells automatically by maintaining any criteria, through dragging the Fill Handle.

3.2 Autofill Dates by Fill Option from Excel Toolbar

You can also autofill dates from the Excel Toolbar. Write down the first date. Then select the cells where you want to insert dates automatically.

Here I have inserted date 20-05-20 into C4, then selected cells from C4 to C14.

Selecting a column with a date in Excel

Then go to the Home>Fill option in Excel Toolbar under the Editing section.

Fill Option in Excel Toolbar

Click on the drop down menu. And you will get these options. Click on Series.

Fill Options in Excel

You will get a dialogue box named Series.

Series Dialogue Box in Excel

You see, in the Series in section, the column option is selected. And in the Type section, the Date option is selected. Keep these unchanged. 

In the Date unit section, select the one which you want to increase.

Select Day if you want to fill the cells with upcoming days.

If you want to fill the cells with upcoming weekdays, select Weekday.

Select Month if you want to fill the cells with increasing month keeping the day fixed.

And if you want to fill the cells with increasing year keeping the day and month fixed, select Year.

All these options were available in the Fill Handle, except one. In Fill Handle, the Step value is set by default 1. If you want to set the step value anything other than 1 in Fill Handle, you have to manually fill two or more cells with that step value. And then have to drag the Fill Handle.

But here you can set the Step value according to your wish by just setting it into the Step value option. Set it and click OK.

Here I select Weekday from the Date unit and keep Step value as 3.

Series Dialogue Box in Excel with Values Added

You will find the selected column filled with increasing weekdays with step value 3.

Autofill Cells with Dates in Excel

Conclusion

So using these methods, you can easily insert dates in Excel automatically. This is quite helpful in our daily lives while we work in Excel. Do you know any other method? Let us know in the comment section.

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