Formula Forensic No 019. Converting uneven Text Strings to Time
Last week over at the Chandoo.org Forums, Birko asked a question about How to Import some Numbers as Times.
“I have imported some data that comes in as a number that I need to convert to h:mm. The data string will be either 1,3,4,5,6 integers long and looks like this…eg
Imported Need to equal this
Number h:mm
0 0:00
100 0:01
1000 0:10
10900 1:09
235900 23:59
Can someone please provide a smart formula to convert this (assume data is in cell A1).”
Today in Formula Forensics we will look at how this problem was solved, and the solution which may surprise you.
Importing Numbers as Times.
When I first saw this data I start by looking at patterns.
Working backwards through the list
I can see that 235900 is 23 Hrs, 59 Min and 0 second
I can see that 10900 is 1 Hr, 9 Min and 0 second
I can see that 1000 is 0 Hrs, 10 Min and 0 second
I can see that 100 is 0 Hr, 1 Min and 0 second
I can see that 0 is 0 Hr, 0 Min and 0 second
I then start to think about how to extract the Hours, Minutes and seconds independently from the Text using a series of Left, Right and Mid functions, and quickly realised that due to the varying lengths of the strings, That they will end up being complex formulas as I will need to allow for each string length.
What if I pad the strings with leading 0’s and then extract them.
That is possible, but as a single formula it will be long and cumbersome as the padding has to occur a number of times for each Hour, Minute and Second as part of the Time() function.
So padding may work but is cumbersome, then a bright light moment
What about I use the Text function to do the padding.
And I quickly posted the following formula:
=(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/24)+(MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2)/1440)+(RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/(24*3600))
As Time is just a number between 0 = midnight and 0.999999 = 11:59:59 pm, I can extract the Hours, Minutes and seconds separately and then simply add them together to get the actual time
I Can use the Text function to display the Strings in a consistent format that allows me to use the Left, Mid and Right functions to retrieve the Hours minutes and Seconds from the appropriate places.
Lets work through this formula section by section and see what is going on.
Hours
The Hours component of the formula is
=
(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/24)
+(MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2)/1440)+(RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/(24*3600))
=(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/24)
Working from the middle out, this formula takes the value in A1 and displays it as a Number with the format “000000”
So using our data
235900 will convert to 235900
10900 will convert to 010900
1000 will convert to 001000
We can now use a Left() function to extract the hours from the first 2 characters of the converted string
Using our examples:
Left(235900,2) = 23
Left(010900,2) = 01
Left(001000,2) = 00
To convert hours to a Time we simply divide by 24
Minutes
The Minutes component of the formula is
=(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/24)+(
MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2)/1440
)+(RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/(24*3600))
=MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2)/1440
Once again, Working from the middle out, this formula takes the value in A1 and displays it as a Number with the format “000000”
So using our data
235900 will convert to 235900
10900 will convert to 010900
1000 will convert to 001000
We can now use a Mid() function to extract the minutes from the middle 2 characters of the converted string
Mid(235900,3,2) = 59
Mid(010900,2) = 09
Mid(001000,2) = 10
To convert Minutes to a Time we simply divide by 1440 (1440 is how many minutes are in a day = 24 * 60)
Seconds
The Seconds component of the formula is
=(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/24)+(MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2)/1440)+(
RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/(24*3600)
)
=RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/(24*3600)
)
Once again, Working from the middle out, this formula takes the value in A1 and displays it as a Number with the format “000000”
So using our data
235900 will convert to 235900
10900 will convert to 010900
1000 will convert to 001000
We can now use a Right() function to extract the minutes from the middle 2 characters of the converted string
Right(235900,3,2) = 00
Right(010900,2) = 00
Right(001000,2) = 00
To convert Seconds to a Time we simply divide by 86400 (86,400 is how many seconds are in a day = 24 * 60 * 60)
Total Time
To get the total Time we simply add the Hour, Minutes and Seconds together
=
(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/24)
+
(MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2)/1440)
+
(RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2)/(24*3600)
)
Download
You can download a copy of the above file and follow along, Download Here.
Formula Forensics “The Series”
You can learn more about how to pull Excel Formulas apart in the following posts
Formula Forensics Needs Your Help
I urgently need more ideas for future Formula Forensics posts and so I need your help.
If you have a neat formula that you would like to share and explain, try putting pen to paper and draft up a Post like above or;
If you have a formula that you would like explained but don’t want to write a post also send it to Chandoo or Hui.
 

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22 Responses to “Formula Forensic No 019. Converting uneven Text Strings to Time”
Why not let the TIME function take care of the math:
=TIME(LEFT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2),MID(TEXT(A1,"000000"),3,2),RIGHT(TEXT(A1,"000000"),2))
I was going to point out the same thing, except to note that useing the time function and doing the divide method are not interchangeable.
I have spent hours investigating a spreadsheet working with a couple of years worth of hourly data, and found that the reason things weren't working is because the rounding on the divide method is only close to the correct time values. In order to have it work for comparisons, (like subtotaling by time value, or pivoting) you MUST use the TIME function.
Great use of the TEXT function, Hui. I will be using this concept for sure.
Why not just.
=TEXT(A1,"00\:00\:00")*1
Regards
Elegant!
Hi Elias,
I tried to use your formula. But, it doesn't seem to work for me. I am getting an error message "The formula you typed contains an error". It seems I have the problem in using \: in the format. How can I overcome this?
Thanks
Manick, it isn't the /: that causes the problem. If you copy/paste it, you're getting “'s instead of the actual quotation marks that Excel uses. Change the quotation marks by deleting from the pasted formula and retype them.
Hi Manick...
use this alternate formula :
=1*TEXT(A1,"00"":""00"":""00")
note twice double quote each side of :
@Manick,
Did you copy the formula and pasted in Excel or did you typed? Also, do you use , or ; as separator of arguments?
Regards
@Elias: I had no problem using your formula, in fact, I have used your method to convert a number such as 20120419 to an Excel date using =TEXT(A1,"0000\/00\/00")*1. Thanks for posting.
@Joe: For date convertion you can use this as well.
=TEXT(A1,"000000")*1
Regards
Sweet! It appears this also works with =TEXT(A1,"00000")*1. I come from the old days when you counted every byte. I also like to try an make formulas as small as possible for the fun of it 🙂
Elias's suggestion is the simplest, but here is yet another way with TIME and MOD functions...
=TIME(MOD(A2/10000,100),MOD(A2/100,100),MOD(A2,100))
Since the seconds appear to always be 0, why not simply the input to minutes and above and save yourself the trouble of typing those zeroes...
0 => 0:00
1 => 1:00
10 => 10:00
100 => 1:00:00
etc.
Then just use this formula...
=TEXT(A1,"0\:00\:")*1
@ Rick, the numbers to convert are no typed, they are imported. Then your formula will return the wrong result.
Regards.
Hmm! My formula lost some backslashzero combinations (two of them to be exact). The formula was supposed to be this...
=TEXT(A1,"0\:00\:\zero\zero")*1
where the words "zero" should actually be the number 0. Another way to write the formula is this...
=TEXT(A1,"0\:00\:""00""")*1
Hi Master,
While writing the formulae you have considered only upto "seconds factor" . I think you should take the centiseconds factor also to achieve best results. Please look into it and rectify the problem...?
For Example.
In horse racing timings are noted in minute, seconds and centiseconds, like if a horse finished in 70 seconds over a scurry of 1200 metres, is noted as 1.10 min. Nowadays it is noted in centiseconds everywhere, like 70.00 if you want to convert it to centi seconds (should multiply by 100) = 7000 centi seconds. If you put this figure into your formula as a general number (7000) it will return as 1:10:00. As per your formula, it should be taken as 1 hour 10 seconds 0 minutes. However for a racing enthusiast like me it can be taken as 1 minute 10 seconds also.
Just look what happens if we race goers use this figure as 7000 centi seconds in your formulae, it will correctly show as 1 minute 10 seconds(?) Suppose a horse finishing over a 1200m in 70.60 seconds or in racing terms written as 1.10.60 mins, where 1 minute 10 seconds, & 60 centiseconds can be counted as 7060, if you put this figure in the formula it will return as 1 minute 11 seconds, that is correct.
My point is if you can incorporate Centi Seconds in the formulae, it would be of great help to us also.
Thanks and regards.
Rajagopal (Mumbai)
Awesome techniques !
I tried with 235960 just to see if it will fail but this is great.
Although a little longer, this too work:
=CHOOSE(LEN(A2);A2/(24*3600);A2/(24*3600);LEFT(A2;1)/(24*60) + RIGHT(A2;2)/(24*3600);LEFT(A2;2)/(24*60) + RIGHT(A2;2)/(24*3600);LEFT(A2;1)/24 + MID(A2;2;2)/(24*60) + RIGHT(A2;2)/(24*3600);LEFT(A2;2)/24 + MID(A2;3;2)/(24*60) + RIGHT(A2;2)/(24*3600))
Converting uneven Text Strings to Time I have imported some data that comes in as a number that I need to convert to h:mm.
Just come across this while googling
find interesting challenge and come up with this
=TEXT(TEXT(SUBSTITUTE(A1,RIGHT(A1,1),""),"000000"),"00\:00\:00")
I need to convert a string of numbers representing average minutes, to reflect correct time values. For example, the numbers below currently represent 5.79 minutes, 15.82 minutes, etc.
I need to convert these values to their correct corresponding value within time parameters. So 5.79 would be something close to 5 minutes and 45 seconds.
5.79
15.82
3.92
12.40
6.70
3.62
I know there has to be a way to compute this in Excel, it can do anything, I believe!
Thank you for any and all assistance~
@Renee... You can use a formula like this. Assuming A1 has the minutes.seconds,
=INT(A1) + MOD(A1, 1)*0.6
If you want to see it in 5 minutes 45 seconds format, use
=INT(A1) & " mins " & ROUND(MOD(A1, 1)*0.6,2) & " secs"