To include today’s date in Google Sheets, use the TODAY function or the keyboard shortcut. I’ll show both methods in my guide below.
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What Is the Google Sheets Today’s Date Function?
Getting the current date into spreadsheets – and within nested formulas – is a breeze with Google Sheets today’s date function.
While this is a basic spreadsheet function, my beginner guide is written to provide everything you need to include a current date in Google Sheets. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions.
In Google Sheets, you can get the current date by using this formula:
The TODAY formula in Google Sheets allows you to insert today’s date in Google Sheets. The formula is dynamic, so you don’t have to enter the syntax repeatedly into your spreadsheet. The date updates every time you refresh, reopen, or make changes to the spreadsheet.
What to Know about the TODAY Formula
- The function has no parameters and can be nested into other Google Sheets functions.
- The TODAY formula is volatile and can hurt the performance of the spreadsheet if there are too many instances.
- The TODAY formula only provides the current date, not the time (=NOW).
Examples: Using the Google Sheets Current Date Formula
To use the TODAY function in Google Sheets, let’s look at some examples in action.
1. Get the Current Date in Google Sheets
Use the TODAY formula to provide an automatic date for the current day.
- Click on the cell of your choice and input an Equals (=) sign to start the function.
- Enter the main part of the formula, which is TODAY( with an open parenthesis.
- Because the function has no parameters, add a closing bracket to finish the formula.
- Press the Enter key to execute the formula.
- Google Sheets Get Later/Earlier Date
Current Date Keyboard Shortcut
The TODAY keyboard shortcut is simple. On a PC, you’ll use:
Ctrl + ; (semicolon)
- PC: Ctrl + ; (semicolon)
And on a Mac, you’ll use a similar function with the command button instead of control.
Command + ;
Here’s what it looks like when you use the keyboard shortcut.
2. Google Sheets Get Later or Earlier Date
Instead of the current date, say that I want to insert a specified number of months in the future. This can be done by combining the TODAY function and the EDATE function.
- Click on the cell of your choice.
- Enter the initial part of the EDATE formula: =EDATE(
- For the first parameter, I’ll input TODAY(). I don’t need to put an equal sign before the start of any other formulas if they’re nested within the original formula.
- Add a comma to separate the parameters.
- Add the second parameter. In this case, the months you want to add/subtract from the date in the first parameter. In this case, I’d write the parameter as 8.
- Enter a closing bracket to finish the formula and press Enter.
Related: Struggling with spreadsheet basics? Try an online Google Sheets course!
How to Format Today’s Date in Google Sheets
Because countries can have different preferences for formatting dates, you may need to consider changing them for your audience:
- In the United States and Canada: mm/dd/yyyy
- In Iran, Korea, and China: yyyy-mm-dd
- Most other countries: dd/mm/yyyy
It’s simple to change date formatting in Google Sheets:
- Select the cell(s) containing the date you wish to format.
- Select Format > Number
- Click on Custom date and time formats.
- In the dropdown, you can select a format from the list or click on the arrow in the textbox (towards the top of the window).
- A smaller menu will show the various elements you can add to the date. In this example, I want the date to be in the mm/dd/yy format. In the menu, I will select Month first.
- Repeat the previous step to add the other elements of the date.
- You can also choose the desired display format. In this example, I want to display the month using the first three letters, so I’ll choose the month with an abbreviation option.
- After making the changes, click “Apply” to save the changes.
When Shouldn’t You Use Today in Sheets?
The TODAY function returns the current date, which can throw off calculations.
I recommend considering =DATEIF. This is especially useful for calculating age or the number of days between two dates.
Similar Formulas to the TODAY Formula
There are multiple formulas to display dates in Google Sheets.
The DATE formula in Sheets can convert a day, month, and year into a date. Here is the syntax for the formula:
=DATE(year, month, day)
The formula uses three parameters, which are the three components of a date. The input must be in number format and can’t be a string or a cell reference to a string.
Related: How to add time in Google Sheets
The NOW formula in sheets is essentially an enhanced version of the TODAY formula (which can display the current time and date):
Note: NOW is also a volatile function that will update every time a change is made to the spreadsheet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Automatically Add Today’s Date in Google Sheets?
Using the TODAY formula, it’s easy to add the current date to your spreadsheet. When entered into a cell, the formula will be =TODAY().
What Is the Fastest Way to Enter Today’s Date on Google Sheets?
Add the current day’s date on your spreadsheet using the TODAY or NOW formula.
- The TODAY function will only display the current date
- The NOW function will display the date and time.
Both formulas lack parameters. However, they are volatile formulas and will affect your spreadsheet’s performance.
How Can I Get Today’s Date in mm/dd/yy Format?
Enter the TODAY formula into a cell, press Enter, and click on the cell. Select Format > Number > Custom date and time. Next, create your own date and time format. You should select the “month, date, year” format and click “Apply” to save the changes.
This is pretty much everything you need to use the Google Sheets today’s date function. Of course, there are more complicated nested functions to use with =TODAY, but we’ll ease into those!