Date Formatting

We Americans like to do things different. Who knows why. Most countries have adopted the metric system and list the date, month and year when formatting a date as in 24 July 2007. This causes confusion especially in the first two weeks of a month.
Since my book, Brilliant Outlook Pocketbook, targeted the UK audience, I asked the editor if she wanted me to use British English spelling or do anything for the audience. She responded not to worry about the spelling, but to change Outlook to format the date in “12 August 2007” style.
So when you use 08/12/2007, are you referring to the 8th of December in 2007 or the 12th of August in 2007? If the data automatically appears on your Web site and online applications, consider spelling out the date rather than the abbreviation. Most people can figure out that 24 July 2007 and July 24, 2007 are the same thing.
I’ve filled out forms for British Web sites where I didn’t realize I entered the date wrong. I didn’t even realize it was a UK-based site until mixing it up with the date format. For forms, consider using headings as in “Month,” “Date,” and “Year.”

2 thoughts on “Date Formatting”

  1. Good point about the headings in forms.

    It actually needs to go a bit wider than such dates, as I recently wrote in my post ‘What time was that?’:

    Words and phrases such as “PDT” and “next spring” are also very confusing.

    And if we’re talking about web forms, people should know that not everyone has a Zip code either. Forcing me to enter a Zip code I don’t have is nonsensical!

  2. Thanks for pointing those out, Miraz, and reminding us that we’re not all on the same schedule in terms of seasons.

    I needed to send a package to the UK — and had trouble trying to figure out the shipping costs. So it was an enlightening experience.


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