International Short Date Formatting for the TEXT Function

by Gregory on July 7, 2011

I have an Excel workbook that is used in two different regions where the date format is entirely different, the US and the UK. At the top of a report worksheet I use a TEXT function to inform the user of the date range.

Here’s what a US user sees:

    From: 6/6/2011 to 6/10/2011

Here is the formula:

    =”From: ” & TEXT(MIN(ExtractData!A:A),”m/d/yyyy”) & ” to ” & TEXT(MAX(ExtractData!A:A),”m/d/yyyy”)

The Min and Max dates are in column A on a worksheet named ExtractData.

The problem is trying to automatically change the date format in the second argument of the TEXT Function – “m/d/yyyy” – which is a string argument. We can use VBA to accomplish this, but first a refresher on the TEXT function syntax.

TEXT Function Syntax and Argument

The Solution

The Application.International Property solves this problem with the xlMDY argument, which is TRUE if the date order is month-day-year, and FALSE if the date order is day-month-year. This property is put into the Workbook_Open event and modifies a defined name constant that’s used for the second argument of the TEXT function.

Here’s how it’s done.

Create a Defined Name Constant for the Date Format

I created a Defined Name Constant to store a Short Date format, and gave it the name sd_format.

In Excel 2007 and 2010, choose Formulas > Define Name to bring up the New Name dialog box where you type in sd_format in the Name box, and type =”m/d/yyyy” in the Refers to box. Remember the equals sign.

New Name dialog box

In Excel 2003, 2008, and 2011 choose Insert > Name > Define to bring up the Define Name dialog box. Type sd_format in the Names in workbook box, then type =”m/d/yyyy” in the Refers to box. Be sure to use the equals sign.

Substitute the Named Constant in the TEXT Function

The sd_format defined name can now be substituted for “m/d/yyy” in the second argument of the TEXT function. Here’s the new formula:

    =”From: ” & TEXT(MIN(ExtractData!A:A),sd_format) & ” to ” & TEXT(MAX(ExtractData!A:A),sd_format)

Since sd_format is already a text string, enclosed quotes are not needed.

Create a Workbook Open Routine

In the VBA Editor, I created a Workbook_Open subroutine, which looks at the computers international setting for the US, and if TRUE changes the sd_format value to “m/d/yyy”, and otherwise changes it to “d/m/yyyy” for the UK short date format.

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
' This routing updates the regional date setting format for the
' defined name sd_format.
If Application.International(xlMDY) = True Then
ThisWorkbook.Names("sd_format").Value = "m/d/yyyy"
ThisWorkbook.Names("sd_format").Value = "d/m/yyyy"
End If
End Sub

How it All Works

Each time the workbook is opened the Workbook_Open routine executes the IF-THEN-ELSE statement, which simply looks to see if the computers region setting is month-day-year, then sets the defined name sd_format to “m/d/yyyy” which is a US format. If the computer’s region setting for the long date format is NOT month-day-year (and presumably day-month-year) then sd_format is set to “d/m/yyyy” for the UK.

Every TEXT function using sd_format for the second argument will then have the proper short date format for that computer.

Note: Obviously if the region settings are changed on the computer while the file is open the file will have to be closed and reopened, but this would most likely be a rare occurrence.

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