JS Tip 185: From the Writing Workshops: Dates (No. Not those kind.)

Two small, small suggestions about writing dates in documents.

Suggestion One: Spell out the month. Don’t use a number.

A number series—10/03/12, for example—requires the reader to translate the numbers into the months. He counts on his fingers: January, February, March . . . . Avoid that translation step. Write out the month: October 3rd, 2012. 

And the number series can be confusing. Your counterpart in London would read 10/03/12 as March 10th.

Suggestion Two: Use ordinal numbers for the day of the month.

What’s today? The nineteenth. The what? The nineteenth. Not the nineteen? Nope. The nineteenth.

If we use conversational language in our documents, we should write today’s date as Friday, November 19th, 2012. It’s easier to understand. It’s more conversational.

We’re grateful to the engineers at the ETC Group in Salt Lake City for pointing this out in a recent workshop. Thank you.  

If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff. Thank you for reading.