How to write dates

By Marina Pantcheva

There are two principal ways to write a date: by using entirely numbers, or by using a combination of words and numbers. There are also two standards for writing dates: the American English standard and the British English standard.

American English

British English

  numbers and letters

May 7, 2013

7 May 2013

  numbers only

05-07-2013

07-05-2013

 

In American English, the month always precedes the day. In British English, the month follows the date. This holds no matter whether one writes the date by using numbers only or numbers and words. Note that, in American English, there is a comma before the year, but not in British English.

In the numerical format, the existence of the two standards can lead to a misinterpretation of the date. For instance, an Englishmen will interpret 05-07-2013 as 7 May 2013, while an American will interpret it as 5 July 2013. It is therefore preferable to write the name of the month.

When writing the date by numbers only, one can separate them by using a hyphen (-), a slash (/), or a dot (.): 05-07-2013, or 05/07/2013, or 05.07.2013.

Omitting the initial zero in the numbers smaller than 10 is also accepted: 5-7-2013, 5/7/2013, or 5.7.2013.

The weekday always comes first and is separated from the rest of the date by a comma, for example, Tuesday, May 7, 2013 (American); or Tuesday, 7 May 2013 (British).

 

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