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Calculate number of hours between two times

Most of the time we want to manage our free time. Excel allows us to calculate number of hours between two times, a concept that is needed when we want to plan our time well. This post will provide you with a guide on how to calculate number of hours between two times.

Figure 1: How to find number of hours between two times

General syntax of the formula

=end - start

Understanding the formula

It is easy to get the duration between two times using excel. All we need to know is the start and end times. Once we have these two, we can proceed as follows to get the time difference between the two times;

  • Specify the start and end times
  • Subtract start time from end time.

When start time and end time are in same day, then it becomes easy and straightforward to calculate the time difference.

For instance, if our start time is 11:00 AM and end time is 3:00 PM, we can simply subtract start time from end time as shown below;

=3:00 PM-11:00 AM

=0.166667 hours

But what if time crosses a day?

Note that excel treats one day as 1 representing 24 hours. This is why we have the value column in the above example, which represents the fractional values of 1.

Take an example where the start time value is larger than the end time value, o simply put, the end time is the next day after the start time. If we use our formula above, we shall get a negative value, which will be displayed as a string of harsh characters, #####

But we can modify our formula to accommodate the time difference when time crosses a day boundary. The modified formula will look as the one below;

=1- start + end

This can be seen in figure 2 row 8 below;

Figure 2: Example of how to find number of hours between two times

The MOD function alternative

In figure 2 above, you must have noticed the MOD column. The MOD function is fundamental in this process as well. It helps us simplify the formula as shown below;

=MOD (end – start,1)

The MOD function removes the negative problem by simply flipping values to the required positive values. When using this, you don’t have to put much emphasis on the conditional IF function.

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