Working with time values in Excel often gives users fits. This is because Excel stores times as a decimal portion of a day. Thus 12 hours is the same as 0.5. Three and a half-hours is represented as 0.145833333333333. Understanding this decimal concept along with Excel’s time-based number formats will help you whip time-based values into shape.
Let’s first say that you have the value 181 in a worksheet cell, and you wish to show this as 3:01 for 3 hours and one minute. To do so, we’ll need to divide 181 by 1440 to convert 181 minutes to its decimal equivalent: 1440 is derived from 24 hours in a day, and 60 minutes per hour, thus 24*60=1440. As shown in Figure 1, 181 divided by 1440 is 0.12569.
Figure 1: Convert minutes into their decimal format by dividing by 1440 and then applying a custom number format.
About David Ringstrom, CPA
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.