4 Ways to Add Time in Microsoft Excel

Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or just beginning to explore its capabilities, understanding how to add time in Excel is a crucial skill that can streamline your data analysis and reporting activities.

In this comprehensive Excel tutorial, I’ll help you solve complex time-related calculations in Excel, providing you with step-by-step instructions, practical tips, and insightful methods.

From basic time addition to handling more complex scenarios, this blog will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to process time-related datasets on Excel seamlessly.

When Do You Might Need to Add Time in Excel?

Find below the common scenarios where you can apply your skill of adding time in Excel:

  • Project management:
    • Calculating total project duration when there have been multiple project duration revisions.
    • Tracking time spent on specific tasks or milestones.
  • Scheduling work or services:
    • Determining total working hours.
    • Adding time also helps you to calculate overtime.
    • Rescheduling transport or other services when there’s a delay.
  • Event planning:
    • Calculating the durations of a big event by adding up the durations of the sub-events.
    • Scheduling and coordinating event timelines.
  • Employee time tracking:
    • Adding work hours for payroll processing.
    • Analyzing employee attendance patterns.
  • Fitness and health tracking:
    • Recording workout durations.
    • Monitoring sleep patterns or meditation sessions.
  • Travel planning:
    • Calculating flight or journey durations.
    • Coordinating layovers or travel segments.
  • Manufacturing and production:
    • Monitoring production cycle times.
    • Calculating processing or assembly durations.
  • Educational timetables:
    • Creating schedules for classes and study sessions
    • Analyzing time spent on different subjects

Add Time in Excel Using the Addition Operator

The addition operator is the basic method to add time to a duration or a time in a day in Excel.

However, the formatting of the input values is a critical variable for accurate results. You must apply custom cell formatting to appropriately express time values in an Excel cell. Otherwise, you might get incorrect results. While you can manually correct a few incorrect time calculations doing the same for a large dataset is truly challenging.

Project table
Project table

Suppose you’ve got a dataset resembling the above table. You need the updated duration for projects in column D.

The addition operator to add time
The addition operator to add time

Go to the first cell where you’d like to calculate the addition of a time to a duration in Excel. Enter the following formula into the cell:


Hit Enter to get the updated duration.

Using the fill handle
Using the fill handle

Now, use the fill handle of the first cell and drag it down the column to get the new time durations for the rest of the cells.

If the input duration values aren’t in the right format, you won’t get the results displayed above. Hence, you must transform your input data before performing the above calculation.

Type list.png
Type list.png

Highlight all the duration values in your worksheet. Press Ctrl + 1 to bring up the Format Cells dialog.

In the Format Cells dialog, go to the Number tab and click on the Time category. Inside the Type list on the right side, choose numbering code 37:30:55. Click OK to apply the time formatting.

Add Time in Excel Using the SUM Function

The SUM function is suitable when you need to add durations of subtasks to get the total duration of the project.

Add time in Excel using SUM
Add time in Excel using SUM

Go to the cell where you want to sum up a bunch of time entries in HH:MM:SS format. Copy and paste the following formula into the cell and hit Enter:


You should customize the above SUM formula depending on the dataset you’re working on. If the input durations aren’t in the appropriate format of time values, use the Format Cells dialog to reformat the time entries.

Add Time in Excel Using the TIME Function

The TIME function in Excel is a useful tool for manipulating and working with time values. It allows you to create time entries by specifying the hour, minute, and second components.

The syntax for the TIME function is pretty straightforward: =TIME(hour, minute, second).

For example, to represent 3:30 PM, you would use =TIME(15, 30, 0), provided that the cell formatting is h:mm AM/PM.

This function is particularly handy when dealing with time-based calculations or when combining durations with other functions to perform complex operations.

You can use the TIME function to create a data entry form where employees can update extra hours, minutes, and seconds of projects and tasks to get the new project duration for accurate billing. here, you’ll add hours, minutes, and seconds to an existing time duration.

This method is more flexible than the ones explained so far because you don’t need to apply any custom cell number formatting. The TIME function will automatically express the resulting duration in HH:MM:SS format.

Example of a project duration dataset
Example of a project duration dataset

Suppose you’ve got or want to create an Excel worksheet that will contain a column for existing durations of projects or sub-projects. Then, there will be three columns for data entry of additional hours, minutes, and seconds used by by the projects or sub-projects. Finally, there will be another column for the total duration or updated completion time.

A TIME formula
A TIME formula

In the first cell of the total duration column, enter the following formula and hit Enter to easily add time in Excel:


Do change the cell references according to your own Excel worksheet.

A TIME formula
A TIME formula

To apply the same formula to the rest of the cells in the column, simply drag the fill handle down the column until there are reference cell values in the adjacent columns.

Fill handle copied formula
Fill handle copied formula

Now, as you keep entering the values in Hour, Minute, and Second columns, Excel will add up the values automatically and populate the result in the cell you selected.

Add Time to AM/PM Format Using the TIME Function

Imagine you’re overseeing a bus service schedule in an Excel worksheet. Your goal is to precisely monitor delays in the start times of services across different bus routes.

Sample dataset
Sample dataset

In this scenario, your primary task involves incorporating hours, minutes, or seconds to the original start times, which are typically in AM/PM format. This ensures accurate tracking of delayed service durations, allowing for effective management of the bus schedule.

You can customize your worksheet according to the above example to have three distinct columns for time entries. These columns are the Start Time for AM/PM time entries, the Delayed BY column for hour, minute, or second, and the New Start Time column where you’ll do the calculations.

Using a TEXT and TIME combo
Using a TEXT and TIME combo

Now, highlight the first cell below the New Start Time column and enter the following formula into it:

=TEXT(B2 + TIME(0,C2,0),"h:mm AM/PM")

Hit Enter to get the calculated time value.

Apply formula to multiple cells
Apply formula to multiple cells

Drag the fill handle down the column to copy and paste the same formula for all the bus routes.

Don’t forget to customize the cell references in the above formula according to your own dataset. The current formula only adds minutes to an AM/PM time format.

If you need to add hours, use this formula:

TEXT TIME combo for hour
TEXT TIME combo for hour
=TEXT(B2 + TIME(C2,0,0),"h:mm AM/PM")

Or, you might need to add seconds, so use this formula:

TEXT TIME combo for second
TEXT TIME combo for second
=TEXT(B2 + TIME(0,0,C2),"h:mm:ss AM/PM")


These are the easiest and easy-to-remember methods to add time in Excel. Give the above methods a try and comment below if you like them. Also, if you know a better method than the ones I’ve mentioned in this article, mention that in your valuable comment.

About the Author

Bipasha Nath

Bipasha Nath

Bipasha is a technical content writer with 10+ years of experience in the technology industry. She previously worked in a SaaS software development company focused on SharePoint, OneDrive, Word, Excel, Word solutions.


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