JS Tip 482: Writing Dates

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

Three suggestions for writing dates in documents.

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

A number series—10/03/18, for example—requires your readers to translate the numbers into the months. They count on their fingers: January, February, March, April . . . .

Avoid the translation step. Write out the month: October 3rd, 2018.

And the number series can be confusing. Your counterpart in London and your counterpart in the military will read 10/03/18 as March 10th. Whoops. No. Not then. Wrong date.

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

What’s today? The twenty-ninth. The what? The twenty-ninth. Not the twenty-nine? Nope. The twenty-ninth. 

So if we use conversational language in our documents, we should write today’s date as Friday, June 29th, 2018. It’s easier to understand. It’s more conversational.

Suggestion Three: Add the day of the week to the day of the month. 

We usually think in terms of days of the week, not days of the month: 

  • “Where were you on the twenty-fifth?” 

    “When was that?” 

    “Last Monday.”

    “Oh. Last Monday, I was in Phoenix. I left on Sunday and returned on Tuesday.”

So what’s today? Friday, June 29th, 2018. 

Easier to identify. Easier to recall.

Consider your readers. Make it easier for them. 

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

And thank you for reading.  


Mark Brooks