It's easy to do date arithmetic using org-mode table formulas. For example, if I enter this table:

| [2020-01-01] | |
| [2020-02-01] | |
| [2020-03-01] | |
#+TBLFM: $2=$1+1

...and then do C-c C-c on the formula, the table updates column 2, adding one day to the dates in column 1.

Can this be done using a Lisp formula instead of a calc formula? If so, how?

I see in the org-mode manual that Lisp formulas support various trailing flags to interpret the table cells in different formats, but not datestamps. I experimented with calc-eval, but calc datestamps differ in format from org datestamps. It appears there's some invisible plumbing that connects the two.

  • 1
    Example: (org-format-time-string "[%F]" (org-time-from-absolute (1+ (org-time-string-to-absolute "[2020-01-01]"))))
    – Tobias
    Mar 25, 2020 at 20:20
  • The basic idea behind @Tobias's example is that entries in an Org mode table are passed to a lisp expression as strings: the rest is a matter of converting them to a data type that you can use for calculation, do the calculation and then convert the result back to a string in order to store it in the table.
    – NickD
    Mar 25, 2020 at 23:29

1 Answer 1


You can use org-table-eval-formula to do the calculation in-place of the field and then retrieve the field value which the lisp form must return with org-table-get-field. In that way you can evaluate the calc formula within your lisp form.

In lisp formulae $1 delivers a string "[2020-01-01]" for the date [2020-01-01]. Therefore the somewhat awkward construction of the calc formula (concat $1 "+1").

See the following example:

| [2020-01-01] |  |
| [2020-02-01] |  |
| [2020-03-01] |  |
#+TBLFM: $2='(progn (org-table-eval-formula nil (concat $1 "+1") t t t t) (org-table-get-field))

In this special case where you really only want date calculation you can also use the following Elisp formula instead:

| [2020-01-01] | [2020-01-02] |
| [2020-02-01] | [2020-02-02] |
| [2020-03-01] | [2020-03-02] |
#+TBLFM: $2='(org-format-time-string "[%F]" (org-time-from-absolute (1+ (org-time-string-to-absolute $1))))

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