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Summing hh:mm Time Values in Microsoft® Excel

Last updated on 2020-05-26 by David Wallis.


“We have a column of cells in an Excel spreadsheet containing times like, 3:15, relating to the time spent on a task. At the bottom of the column I’ve used AutoSum to add up the times, but the result appears as either a date or funny number. What do I do to get a total in hours and minutes?”

Response — With Proviso

The formula you created with Σ — AutoSum — is fine.

For old versions of Excel, pre-ribbon, all you need do is apply an appropriate format to its result:

  1. Select the cell containing the total
  2. From the Format menu, choose the Cells command
  3. From the Category list, select Custom
  4. In the Type box, input the format [h]:mm (note the use of square brackets). If you want to show seconds in your total, input [h]:mm:ss (this format is listed in Excel’s Custom formats)
  5. Click OK.

For versions of Excel with the ribbon, all you need do is apply an appropriate format to the total formula:

Excel summing time

Find the format on the ribbon's Home tab, under Number, by choosing More number formats from the drop-down list to display the Format Cells dialog box:

Excel time format

The Proviso

The solution described above works provided each and every “Time Spent” is less than 24 hours. If any of them are likely to be longer than 24 hours, then you’ll need to adjust the format of Column B

XL sum time

The input into Cell B2 is 30:00. In the formula bar, you may see Excel considering this input as 01/01/1900 06:00:00. Excel’s view is that January 1st 1900 is the first day in its internal calendar, worth 24 hours.

Excel Formulae and Formats for Time Differences carries a full explanation of how Excel accommodates dates and time and how we need to appreciate that when inputting combinations of these.

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“Thanks for the Excel Response for Summing Time Values — Worked Perfectly”

AT, Wisconsin (2010)