The TODAY function is a bare bones date function used to return the value of the current day. That is all it does. However, this function is useful in building dynamic formulas that use the resultant date.

For example, you may have a policy of liquidating any inventory that has been in your warehouse for over five years. Assuming that you have the purchase date of the inventory pieces, this formula could be used to find the current age of the inventory on the exact date the you run the formula. You can always run it for a certain number of days in the future or past by simply using a plus or minus sign with it.

Tip: The TODAY function returns just the date. If you want the date and time, use the NOW function which operates in the same way but returns the time and date in the same value.

Purpose

The TODAY function returns the value of the current day. As further explained in how to use dates and times in Google Sheets formulas, the value is actually an integer but will typically be displayed as a date.

Syntax

=TODAY()

Note that you need the quotes even though there should be nothing in them. The sole purpose of this is to irritate you and make you wonder why. There is no answer, just live with it!

Examples

Example 1 - Plain and Simple

A simple example of the TODAY function.

Formula Description Result
=TODAY() Output today's date (not really "today" but what today was when this was written! 12/28/2016

Example 2 - Using TODAY in formulas

The TODAY function is commonly used in formulas to calculate the age of an object. Below is an example inventory listing. You could add conditional formatting to make every cell that has a value greater than 5 have a pink background and red font to let you know that the inventory is obsolete.

Tip: Add the rounding function to display less decimals such as =ROUND(((TODAY()-A2)/365),0)

Tip: The DATEDIF function provides a more powerful method of calculating age. It can be customized to output days, month, years, or a combination thereof.

A B C D
1 Item # Purchase Date Age - Formula Age - Value
2 Hang glider - red striped 2/12/2012 =(TODAY()-B2)/365 4.882191781
3 Stunt bike 6/30/2014 =(TODAY()-B3)/365 2.501369863
3 Flaming Sword 4/2/2013 =(TODAY()-B3)/365 3.745205479

 Live examples in Sheets 

Go to this spreadsheet for the examples of the TODAY function shown above that you can study and use anywhere you would like.