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Article ID: 214365 - Last Review: October 14, 2013 - Revision: 3.0

This article was previously published under Q214365
This article has been archived. It is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.


The DATE function may return a #NUM! error even though the year, month, and day arguments are all valid. For example, the following formula

may return a #NUM! error.


This problem occurs when the following conditions are true:

  • The workbook in which you are using the function uses the 1904 Date System. -and-

  • The year argument is one of the following values:
      0   00   1900
      1   01   1901
      2   02   1902
      3   03   1903
Because the 1904 Date System is the default date system in Microsoft Excel for the Macintosh, this problem is more likely to occur in workbooks that were created on the Macintosh. This behavior is by design of Microsoft Excel.


To work around this problem, use a full four-digit year argument that is greater than or equal to 1904. For example, instead of the following formula
use the following formula:
By specifying a valid full four-digit year, you can prevent the DATE function from returning a #NUM! error value.


In Microsoft Excel, you can use either of following two date systems.

   Date system        First day is      Default date system in

   1900 Date System   January 1, 1900   Microsoft Excel for Windows
                                        Microsoft Excel for Windows NT

   1904 Date System   January 1, 1904   Microsoft Excel for the Macintosh
To change the date system for the active workbook, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options. Click the Calculation tab.
  2. Click to select the 1904 date system check box to use that date system; to use the 1900 Date System, clear the check box.
  3. Click OK.
When you use the DATE function to return the serial number of a particular date, and you use a one- or two-digit year argument, the function assumes that the date is in the 20th century (19xx). Because the 1904 Date System does not support dates before January 1, 1904, the DATE function fails if you specify a year argument that is less than 1904. For example, the following results are displayed.
                      Result when using   Result when using
   Formula            1900 Date System    1904 Date System
   =DATE(0,1,1)       1/1/1900            #NUM!

   =DATE(1,7,5)       7/5/1901            #NUM!

   =DATE(1902,8,12)   8/12/1902           #NUM! (since year < 1904)

   =DATE(4,3,31)      3/31/1904           3/31/1904

  • Microsoft Excel 2000 Standard Edition
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