The TIME function is a computer program that you run from a worksheet cell formula. It converts a hour, minute and second number to a decimal number that Excel recognizes as a time. You run the TIME function by typing its name in a formula then followed by the information it is suppose to use. The TIME worksheet function is used with functions like the VLOOKUP, MATCH and similar functions because when they lookup times they are looking for the decimal number not a time format. So in other words, 12:00:00 PM will not work as the first argument of VLOOKUP. The TIME worksheet function is also used heavily with dashboard interfaces taking the ActiveX control numbers they output and turning them into times.

Whenever you type a formula in a worksheet cell, this is called syntax or grammar. The general TIME function syntax has a format like this when you type it in a worksheet cell:

=TIME( hour, minute, second )

Where hour, minute... is called the function argument list. Remember, you are running a computer program at this point so the program needs information to operate and that is why there is an argument list. When you see an argument list and you see square brackets [ ] around the argument name, this means the argument is optional and you do not have to include it when typing unless you need it. So for the syntax above, you need to include 3 arguments for the TIME function when typing it in a worksheet cell formula in order for it to calculate correctly. What argument values can be used are discussed below. Remember functions expect certain things in their argument lists, if you do not put the correct information in the list they will generate an error when run.

- hour: Required. Normally a number between 0 and 23. Any number
greater than 23 will divided by 24 and the remainder will be
treated as the hour value. The total range is 0 - 32767.
- For example TIME( 30, 0, 0 ) =TIME( 6, 0, 0 ) = 6:00 AM

- minute:
Required. Normally a value between 0 and 59. Any number
greater than 59 will be converted to hours and minutes. The
total range is 0 - 32767.
- For example TIME( 0, 800, 0 ) = TIME( 13, 20, 0 ) = 1:00 PM

- second: Required. Normally a value between
0 and 59. Any number greater than 59 will be converted to
hours, minutes and seconds. The total range is 0 - 32767
- For example TIME( 0, 0, 3000 ) = TIME( 0, 50, 0 ) = 12:50 AM

Since the TIME function is a computer program, it runs when you press Enter to enter the formula that contains it. If any of its arguments are wrong, the function will return an error.

When typing theTIME function in a worksheet cell formula, you need to replace its arguments with the hour, minute and second numbers needed. Some typical arguments you can use are:

Argument Type | Cell Formula | Example Explanation |

Cell Reference | =TIME( A1, A2, A3 ) | Returns a decimal number based upon the numbers in cells A1, A2 and A3. For example if 6,0,0 where in those cells then .25 would be returned |

Range Reference | =TIME( A1:A10, B1:B10, C1:C10 ) | Returns an array of decimal time numbers based upon the hours, minutes and seconds in the cell ranges |

The worksheet seen below contains some typical worksheet formulas that run the TIMEVALUE and TIME worksheet functions. Pay close attention to the argument list and the syntax used to write the formula.

A | B | C | |

1 | Hours | Minutes | Seconds |

2 | 6 | 15 | 23 |

3 | |||

4 | Formula below uses TIMEVALUE that splices the time together from table above so VLOOKUP can use it to lookup a decimal time number in another table | ||

5 | = VLOOKUP ( TIMEVALUE( A2 & ":" & B2 & ":" & C2 ), $G$1:$K$100, 3, FALSE ) | ||

6 | You can also use the TIME function for the same effect as TIMEVALUE above when dealing with time number parts in seperate columns | ||

7 | = VLOOKUP (TIME( A2, B2, C2 ), $G$1:$K$100, 3, FALSE ) |

- Time values go between 0 and 0.99999999 so 12:00 PM is represented as 0.5

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