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How to Add Hours and Minutes in Excel

Part of the appeal of Microsoft Excel is that it can turn its hand to a wide variety of tasks, and that includes working with time values as well as standard numbers. The ability to add hours and minutes together depends on the formatting you've applied to the cells you're working with: you must ensure that the cells in question are configured to hold hours and minutes to enable the problem to recognise and add them together correctly.

Launch the Excel application and open the spreadsheet you wish to work with. Alternatively select the "Blank workbook" option from the Start screen to begin from scratch.

Enter the hours and minutes values into a column of cells in your spreadsheet, using the hh:mm format.

Select all of the cells you've entered values into, then open the format drop-down menu from the Number section of the Home tab on the ribbon menu and select "More Number Formats."

Choose "Custom" from the Category list under the Number tab on the Format Cells dialog box, then select "[h]:mm:ss" from the Type list. In the input box directly below the Type heading, you can delete the "ss" values if you don't wish to display seconds alongside hours and minutes. Click "OK" to confirm.

Click inside the cell directly below the list of times you want to add together. Type "=SUM(B2:B6)" and press "Enter," replacing "B2" and "B6" with the first and last cells containing times.

Right-click on the cell containing the total value and choose "Format Cells." The selected format should be the "[h]:mm:ss" (or "[h]:mm") format you configured earlier, but you can apply it again from here if not.

Tip

Other types of calculations can be applied to cells containing hours and minutes -- you can subtract one time from another, for example. You can also use the custom format option to configure different types of formatting, such as "hh:mm" instead of "[h]:mm" if you don't want the number of hours to be able to exceed 24.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Excel
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About the Author

An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.