Quick, clean, and to the point

Parse time string to time

Excel formula: Parse time string to time
Generic formula 

To parse a text string that represents a time into a proper Excel time, you can use a formula based on the RIGHT, LEFT, MID, and TIME functions. In the example shown, the formula in F5 is:


Which parses a 6-character time string in hhmmss format into a valid Excel time.

Note: the examples above use different time format codes as indicated in the screenshot.


Excel expects times in Excel to be entered with the hour and minute separated by a colon. If you are entering a time with seconds, you'll need to add another colon to separate minutes and seconds, as seen in the table below:

Desired time Entry format
2.5 hours 2:30
30 minutes 0:30
10 minutes, 15 seconds 0:10:15
45 seconds 0:00:45

The example on this page shows one way to skip the colons and enter a simple 4-digit or 6-digit text string that represents a time, then parse the text into a proper Excel time with a formula in a helper column.

This is a good example of nesting one function inside another in the same formula.


First, note that the cells in F5:F13 are formatted as Text prior to entry. This allows the times to contain leading zeros like "083000". Alternately, you can enter these time strings with a single quote at the start (') to force Excel to respect them as text.

Next, the time string contains 6 characters in the following format:

hhmmss // as text

This means the formula needs to pick up 2 characters each for hour, minute, and second. Working from the inside, out, this task is performed with the LEFT, MID, and RIGHT functions:

LEFT(E5,2) // get hh
MID(E5,3,2) // get mm
RIGHT(E5,2) // get ss

Each of the function returns a result directly to the TIME function. In E9, we have:


So the result inside TIME looks like this:


The TIME function then quietly handles the text-to-number conversion and returns a valid time:


Representing 4 hours, 10 minutes, and 55 seconds.

With a 4-character time string

The formula in C5 is meant to handle only a 4 character time string (hours and minutes), so the structure is a bit simpler. We simply hardcode the value for seconds into the TIME function as zero:

Dave Bruns

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