Tip of the week # 614
20 July 2020

Set a date using English words and formulas (Microsoft Outlook) *

Back in 2004 I wrote a tip about the fact that Outlook understands normal English when you want to schedule a meeting, create a follow-up task or a flag to remind recipients to reply by a specific date. No need to pick dates or times using the drop-down menus. You can simply type tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, this Wednesday, next Wednesday, next Tue or combinations such as tomorrow next week.

But did you know you can use formulas, which can be extremely handy when someone writes they'll get back to you in, say, five days' time and you want to set a reminder.

Here's how:

  1. Make sure your cursor is in the date field. (Perhaps use TAB to jump to it.)
  2. Try out one of the following:
    1. Type 5d to add 5 days to the date shown in the date field. OR
    2. Type 5w to add 5 weeks to the date shown in the date field. OR
    3. Type 5m to add 5 months to the date shown in the date field. OR
    4. Type 5y to add 5 years to the date shown in date field.

You cannot use formulas to go back in the past, but you can type phrases such as Friday before 20 July or Mon before 20/7 or month before 20/7. Outlook also understands Last week or last month. (With thanks to Sally for the tip inspiration!)
And remember, there is no need to pick up your mouse to select times. Simply type, for example, 10am or 3pm.

Oh, and in Outlook 365 you can also use "natural language" to search. For example, you can type "from karen last month". But I'll write a separate tip about that at some point. Lots of inspiration right now because of the recent 60-minute webinars.

Related tips

  1. Set a date using plain English - tip_350.php
  2. Jump to a specific date in your calendar - tip_485.php
  3. Schedule your e-mail message to be sent at your preferred date and time - tip_503.php
  4. Set a flag to remind recipients to reply by a specific date - tip_477.php
  5. Setting a follow-up reminder for an email message - tip_103.html


* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.