Insert the current date and time into Word


Here’s all the different ways you can quickly insert the current date or time into a Microsoft Word document. There’s the ‘official’ shortcut and the ‘secret’ shortcut with better options than the usual tip.

As usual with Word and Office, there’s the simple but incomplete answer that’s commonly given but more useful info when Office-Watch.com digs deeper.

Fixed or Dynamic

There are shortcuts to enter the current date or time as text.  Once entered it doesn’t change.

Or date/time can be automatically updated each time you open or print the document.  A dynamic or changing date/time text.  Great for documents that are revised occasionally, daily/weekly/monthly reports and document templates.

 

There are other Word date/time options beyond entering the current date or time.  Word has options to automatically show the document creation date, when the document was last saved or printed.

 

Current Date and Time in Word

Tucked away on the Insert tab is an Insert Date and Time dialog.  Insert | Text | Insert Date and Time.

That opens the Date and Time dialog.

Choose from the many available formats to insert.

Sadly, there’s no choice for setting your own date/time format preference.

Set as Default – this button changes THREE defaults.

  • Any future time you return to this dialog, the chosen format will be pre-selected.

AND

  • Update automatically is on/off when you return to this dialog

AND

  • The date shortcut Shift + Alt + D will insert the date/time in the same format.

Update automatically

  • UNchecked, text is added to the document. This won’t change.
  • Checked, adds a dynamic field code. This will change anytime you update the document.

Current Date / Time shortcut

The shortcut Alt + Shift + D will always insert a dynamic date field.  This will be changed anytime you update the field code.

The format for the date/time is set in the Insert Date and Time dialog (see above).  Choose a Date format and the ‘Set As Default’ option.

Shift + Alt + D inserts a date field ( the {DATE} field ) which is automatically changed whenever the document is updated.

Click on the field to update from the button provided.

Like any field code, right-click to see more useful options.  Edit field opens the Field code dialog.  Toggle Field Code exposes the {} field to view or edit.

Date as fixed text

If you want current date as plain text (ie doesn’t change) select the inserted date field and press Ctrl + Shift + F9.  That ‘unlinks’ the field or ‘convert field result to text’.

In other words the shortcuts: Shift + Alt + D, left arrow, Ctrl + Shift + F9 will give you a text date.  Long-winded but happily there’s a better shortcut later in this article.

Current Time shortcut

The shortcut Alt + Shift + T will insert a dynamic time field.  This will be changed anytime you update the field code.

The format for the time is set in the Insert Date and Time dialog (see above).  Choose a Time format and the ‘Set As Default’ option.

Shift + Alt + T inserts a time field ( the {TIME} field ) which is automatically changed whenever the document is updated.

If you want plain text (ie doesn’t change) select the inserted time field and press Ctrl + Shift + F9.  That ‘unlinks’ the field or ‘convert field result to text’.

Time as fixed text

If you want the current time as plain text (ie doesn’t change) select the inserted date field and press Ctrl + Shift + F9.  That ‘unlinks’ the field or ‘convert field result to text’.

In other words the shortcuts: Shift + Alt + T, left arrow, Ctrl + Shift + F9 will give you a text time.  Long-winded but happily there’s a better shortcut later in this article.

Secret Date / Time shortcut

There’s another insert date/time shortcut which isn’t often mentioned but is very useful.  It will insert the default date/time format as plain text OR dynamic field code (depending on your default).

It’s as fast as the traditional Shift + Alt + D or Shift + Alt + T shortcuts but gives the choice of fixed text or dynamic fields.

The shortcut uses the ribbon keyboard shortcuts. Start by pressing/tapping the Alt key then letters/numbers, one at a time.  It’s different from traditional shortcuts where you hold all the keys at the same time.

The Insert Date/Time shortcut is  Alt then N then D and finally an Enter.

It’s normally written with commas:  Alt, N, D, Enter.

Alt, N, D opens the Insert Date/Time dialog we’ve mentioned above.  The final Enter inserts the default date with the formatting and Update automatically setting you’ve setup.

That might seem cumbersome except that you DON’T have to wait for the Word ribbon to update on the screen.  Just type the keys quickly and the actions will happen without the dialog box appearing.

Changing Date or Time format

To change the default date or time format there are three options:

  • Change Windows regional setting. Word initially gets the formatting for date, time and currency from Windows.
  • Insert Date and Time dialog | Set as default. As shown above, there is a list of possible format combinations.  Select one of those and click ‘Set as default’.
  • Use the {DATE} or {TIME} fields with specific formatting ‘pictures’ to set exactly what you want. Here’s an extreme example with words included:

The full field to make that long date is:

{ DATE  \@ "dddd 'on the' d'st day of' MMMM 'in the year of Our Lord' yyyy" }

(we’ve cheated on the ‘1st’ text.  Changing the format for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. is complicated).


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