How to Write the Date in a Document
  • 4-minute read
  • 18th May 2018

How to Write the Date in a Document

In an era of calendar apps, we don’t have to write the date down often. But this does mean that it’s easy to forget the rules for writing dates in different places. It’s lucky, then, that we’re here to help!

Writing the Date in Full

In formal writing, always write the date in full when it is part of a sentence. This usually involves giving the day of the month, the month, and the year:

The meeting will take place on April 21, 2019.

Note that the year follows after a comma. You can, however, use a few different formats. This can include omitting the year or adding the day of the week. In addition, you can use ordinal instead of cardinal numbers when writing the date out in full with the day before the month:

  • Thursday, October 3
  • Tuesday, August 6, 2019
  • The 21st of April 2019

The letters that follow the numbers above are a little old fashioned, but they are not incorrect. You may also see these numbers formatted as superscript. Whichever date format you use, however, make sure to apply it consistently for all dates in your document.

Abbreviating the Date

In less formal writing, or when the date is not part of the main text in a document, you can abbreviate the month to save space. For instance, “August 20, 2019” could be abbreviated to “Aug. 20, 2019.” The same can be done with days (e.g., “Tuesday” becomes “Tue.”).

Typically, the first three letters are used as the abbreviation for any day or month. However, some style guides (e.g., MLA) recommend only doing this for months with more than five letters.

Writing the Date as Numerals

You can also write the date as numerals. The format to use here is month/day/year. There are, however, a number of variations, including:

  • Whether to put a “0” before single-digit months and days
  • Whether to write the year in full or just the last two digits
  • How to punctuate the date

For example, we could write March 4, 2019 in any of the following ways:

  • 03/04/2019
  • 03.04.19
  • 3-4-2019

The best format is a matter of preference, as long as you use it consistently. However, you should also keep clarity in mind. For instance, if referring to something that could have happened in either 1902 or 2002, you should always give the year in full to prevent confusion!

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Other Date Formats

We should now give a few thoughts to the rest of the world. After all, the month/day/year format used in the US is not really used anywhere else (except for the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands).

For some reason, the Marshall Islands tourism board focuses more on the beaches than the date format.

Around the rest of the world, the most common format is day/month/year (e.g., in the UK and Australia). A few places also use a year/month/day format (e.g., China), but this is very rare in English.

This variation is especially important to remember with numeric dates, as it can be easy to get confused unless you know the format.

For instance, “4/10/2019” would refer to April 10 in the US, but it would refer to October 4 in Britain or France. So make sure to check the date format being used when dealing with other countries, otherwise you might be very early or very late for appointments in Europe!

The International Date Format

Finally, if you’re sharing information across the world, you may want to use the international date format (ISO 8601). This is a standardized format that works across borders, so it is commonly used by government organizations and global businesses. And it always uses the format YYYY-MM-DD, which removes any chance of confusion:

We sent the invoice on 2020-07-10.

The date above, for example, denotes July 10, 2020.

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Comments (61)
Cheryl
11th February 2020 at 04:02
I need to enter the month and day in the middle of a sentence. For example, “Our annual Awards Program will be held on February 3 with the dinner starting at 6 p.m.” Should there be a comma after the 3? Why shouldn’t it read as February 3rd with dinner starting……..? and again would it be grammatically correct to insert a comma after 3rd? Also, should "Awards Program" be capitalized?
    Proofed
    11th February 2020 at 10:11
    Hi, Cheryl. To respond to your questions: a) I'd say you do need a comma before "with" as "with the dinner starting..." is additional information rather than essential to understanding the first part of the sentence (i.e., the date of the event does not depend on the time of the dinner). The comma helps indicate they are separate details. b) The capitalization of "Awards Program" depends on whether that is the official name of the event. If it's just a description (i.e., it's an awards program but it isn't officially called "Awards Program"), then you wouldn't need the capitalization.
Alex Blue
10th March 2020 at 18:14
If the 8-digit format is used (03/10/2020) in the middle of a sentence, does there need to be a comma after the year? Example: "The study done on 03/10/2020, was unremarkable."
    Proofed
    11th March 2020 at 09:43
    Hi, Alex. You wouldn't usually use that format in a sentence, or at least not in formal writing, but you would not need a comma if you did.
Kathy Nelson
12th March 2020 at 19:26
I’m writing a letter to the NC Ins. Commissioner’s office . Is it acceptable to use 12/22/2019 instead of writing out the month December?
    Proofed
    13th March 2020 at 09:56
    Hi, Kathy. As long as it is clear in context, that date format should be fine.
Lori
9th April 2020 at 02:22
What if the date is party of a description... In response to your March 17, 2020 request... " Do you need a comma after the year?
    Proofed
    9th April 2020 at 10:10
    Hi, Lori. Some style guides vary on this, but most add a comma after the year when using the month-day-year format mid-sentence (e.g. "In response to your March 17, 2020, request…").
Joseph Ballstaedt
24th April 2020 at 17:21
In legal documents (I'm an attorney), I write "DATED this 24th day of April, 2020." Is the comma necessary/proper or optional? I believe it is better to have it, but perhaps style guides differ.
    Proofed
    24th April 2020 at 17:30
    Hi, Joseph. In most forms of writing, the comma there would be incorrect as you typically only need a comma between the month and a year when both are written as numerals (i.e. to clearly distinguish the two numbers). However, legal writing often has its own conventions (e.g. there aren't many contexts in which one would write "Dated this day of..."), so if you would usually add a comma before the year in such a document, I'd imagine it's fine to do so.
nelsy
27th April 2020 at 16:21
hi! Is Friday, May 8 or Friday, May 8th_correct?
    Proofed
    27th April 2020 at 17:07
    Hi! Either "Friday, May 8" or "Friday, May 8th" would be fine in general (as long as the date is clear and you're not following a specific style guide with its own rules for writing dates, it's simply a matter of preference).
Vinayak Mali
30th April 2020 at 04:59
Is it correct this date writing: '15th - 30th April 2020' or '15th - 30th April, 2020'
    Proofed
    30th April 2020 at 09:45
    Hi, Vinayak. The standard version would probably be "15th–30th April 2020" (no spaces on either side of the dash; comma after "April" not necessary). If you're using a style guide/sheet, though, you may want to check whether it suggests a different format.
Lorena
9th June 2020 at 18:28
I complete diploma certificates, when done I noticed I printed all my certificates with the date as "11 day of June"... is that incorrect? or "11th day of June" is the proper way to write it.
    Proofed
    10th June 2020 at 15:56
    Hi, Lorena. In standard English, "11th day of June" would certainly be the clearest, most common phrasing, and "11 day of June" would be ungrammatical if you used it in a sentence. But it's hard to offer definitive advice without knowing the context (e.g., how the date is presented on the diplomas, what institution the diplomas are from). You can always give our proofreading services a try if you need help with a specific document.
Suzy S.
18th June 2020 at 14:26
What is the correct format for a date span? Is a comma needed after the first date/year? such as: April 11, 2019, through April 13, 2019. Or can I say April 11, 2019 through April 13, 2019. Thank you!
    Proofed
    18th June 2020 at 14:58
    Hi, Suzy. It is standard to add a comma after the year when a date appears mid-sentence, and that would usually apply to the first date in a date range if you have the year in both. So, for example, you would write "April 11, 2019, through April 13, 2019" because both dates include the year. But you would leave the comma out in "April 11 through April 13, 2019" because the year is only given at the end of the sentence.
Suzy S.
18th June 2020 at 16:46
Thank you very much, I appreciate your help!
Cynthia Burke
23rd June 2020 at 18:12
How should you write July 21, 22, 23, 2020 in a document?
    Proofed
    24th June 2020 at 10:51
    Hi, Cynthia. Are you asking how to write a date range? If so, you can try "July 21–23, 2020" or "July 21 to July 23, 2020" (the second is more formal).
Sam Dakduk
22nd July 2020 at 00:34
Very well explained
Kimberley Graner
30th July 2020 at 14:37
I have a program director who insists on writing invitations like this: Wednesday August 26th, 2020 at 7 pm EDT Is that, strictly speaking, incorrect?
    Proofed
    30th July 2020 at 15:21
    Hi, Kimberley. Do you have an issue with the date in mind? Technically, there are a few things we would usually do in formal US English that aren't currently done there (e.g., there would usually be a comma after the day of the week and the year, making it "Wednesday, August 26th, 2020, at 7pm EDT"). And some style guides have specific requirements for dates and times (e.g., the Chicago Manual of Style would suggest leaving out the ordinal "th" after the day and putting the time zone in brackets). But, broadly speaking, that combination of a date and time seems perfectly clear and follows the standard US date format (i.e., month-day-year), so we can't see much wrong with it.
BLR
2nd August 2020 at 20:07
To avoid the crazy confusion of US vs rest of world date abbreviations (I am a translator and working between US English and Brazilian Portuguese makes it a serious issue) it is increasingly common to adopt the international filing standard of yyyy/mm/dd (so 2020/08/02 leaves nobody in any doubt that one is referring to August 2nd).
    Proofed
    4th August 2020 at 11:36
    Good point! We've added something about this to the post now. Thanks for the suggestion.
Kunal
17th August 2020 at 16:05
Can I used date as "17th August, 2020"?
    Proofed
    18th August 2020 at 10:41
    Hi, Kunal. If you're using the US date format, this should be "August 17th, 2020" (although "August 17, 2020" would be more common).
Laurie Taylor
17th August 2020 at 17:41
If I need to write two different dates from the same month and year in the same sentence which is the proper way to write the dates? May 05 and 12, 2020 or May 05, 2020 and May 12, 2020
    Proofed
    18th August 2020 at 10:44
    Hi, Laurie. Either approach is potentially fine, but the second is clearer since there's no possibility for doubt about the month of the second date. A more concise option would be to repeat the month without repeating the year (e.g., "May 5 and May 12, 2020").
Jason Franklin
1st September 2020 at 05:56
Is it proper to say something like, 'Event Name' will be September 3-6, 2020 in a post title?
    Proofed
    1st September 2020 at 10:15
    Hi, Jason. You wouldn't usually need the quote marks around the event name, and if your blog uses a specific style guide you might want to check whether to use a hyphen or en dash in the date range. But the general format is fine for a post title, especially if the post is to announce the date of the event.
Teri Clark
22nd September 2020 at 21:16
I recently saw "September 22nd, 2020" vs. September 22, 2020. Is this a modern rule/usage? I learned that when dates are written after the month, cardinal figures are used. Ordinal figures (1st, 2nd, etc) are only used for expressing dates before the month (as in 22nd of September).
    Proofed
    23rd September 2020 at 10:11
    Hi, Teri. Different style guides may offer different advice on this as ordinal numbers aren't entirely unusual in dates, but the most common approach when using the US date format in writing is to use a cardinal number.
Andrea
28th September 2020 at 12:58
Hi! I'm currently making an informative essay and I'm discussing events during the 20th to 21st century. Should I write it as 20th and 21st or twentieth and twenty-first every time I mention it in the essay?
    Proofed
    29th September 2020 at 10:09
    Hi, Andrea. The key will be checking your college or university's style guide to see if it has any rules about writing numbers and centuries. If not, it's your choice as long as you choose a clear and consistent way of writing centuries out. We'd usually suggest writing "twentieth and twenty-first centuries" in formal writing. However, if you repeat this phrase a lot and using the full terms would make the writing clunky, and as long as your school's style guide permits it, you can use "20th and 21st centuries" instead.
Augusta N Kammer
29th September 2020 at 15:46
Not having the specific date, which is correct? "By April of 1784 Brailsford was operating..." OR "By April 1784, Brailsford was operating..." OR "By April 1784 Brailsford was operating..."
    Proofed
    29th September 2020 at 16:34
    Hi, Augusta. Any of those would be acceptable, although "By April of 1784" arguably sounds a little old-fashioned (fine if that's what you're going for, but otherwise dropping the "of" is probably better). And since the sentence is clear either way, the comma after the year is a matter of preference unless you're following a specific style guide (in which case, check that for what it says on punctuating introductory elements).
Colleen
6th October 2020 at 17:16
Is it incorrect to write the date in a paper as follows: May 5th, 2020?
    Proofed
    8th October 2020 at 09:23
    Hi, Colleen. You can include the "th" if you prefer and you're not using a specific style guide, but most American English style guides suggest using the format "May 5, 2020" instead.
Violeta Mauricio
27th October 2020 at 11:58
how do you type the word? on the third monday of january every year.
    Proofed
    27th October 2020 at 15:17
    Hi, Violeta. I'm afraid I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "the word" in your question, so apologies if I've misunderstood you, but "On the third Monday of January every year" is correct (although not a complete sentence by itself).
Putri
4th January 2021 at 19:00
Hello! Is it correct to type a comma before a verb? As for example: "Date of Graduation: August 27, 2019, based on..." Thank you! :)
    Proofed
    5th January 2021 at 10:30
    Hi, Putri. There's no particular need to use a comma before a verb, but it is correct to set off the year with commas when using a month-day-year date format mid-sentence (as you do in your example).
Fatima
29th March 2021 at 14:36
Hi, is that "March, 2020-July, 2021" or "March 2020-July 2021"
    Proofed
    30th March 2021 at 12:25
    Hi, Fatima. You shouldn't usually need a comma between a month and a year, if that is the main issue here.
Julie
29th April 2021 at 17:29
On a flyer for an event, which is best: "May 13th and 14th" "May 13th-14th" or "May 13-14th? The event logo has the year so not sure if I should include the year.
    Proofed
    30th April 2021 at 09:27
    Hi, Julie. Any of “May 13th and 14th,” “May 13th-14th,” or “May 13-14” should work. And if the year is clear from the flyer otherwise, you should be fine leaving that out.
Suzel
18th May 2021 at 22:17
What is the correct way to write a date in a legal contract, 18th day of May, 2020? Or 18th day of May 2020 leaving out the comma after the month?
    Proofed
    19th May 2021 at 09:37
    Hi, Suzel. For American English, it is probably best to stick to a standard US date format (e.g., "May 18, 2020") unless you're using a style guide that suggests otherwise. If you are using a more UK-style format and "day of," though, you shouldn't need a comma between the month and year.
JOANN SHAW
24th May 2021 at 22:16
When typing the date in a letter, and the month and day numbers are at the end of a line, is it proper to have the numbers on the next line? For example: May 24, 2021 versus May 24, 2021 versus May 24, 2021 Which is correct for proper letter writing placement? Thank you.
    JOANN SHAW
    24th May 2021 at 22:17
    That stinks ... it didn't keep the formatting when I typed it. {big sad face}
    Proofed
    25th May 2021 at 09:02
    Hi, Joann. Sorry about the comment formatting (I have reported the issue, so hopefully we can fix it at some point). On the date formatting, though, you would usually want to keep the whole date on the same line (assuming this is the date at the top of the letter rather than a date within the text of a letter).
Narmin
6th July 2021 at 12:12
How should I write June 30 2021 and July 06 2021 in a document? 30 june, 06 july, 2021 or 30 june-06 july, 2021 ?
    Proofed
    12th July 2021 at 09:12
    Hi, Narmin. Can you clarify what you're asking? If you mean how should you write a date range in full in formal writing using the standard US date format, we'd probably suggest "June 30, 2021 to July 6, 2021" or just "June 30 to July 6, 2021" (assuming the year of the first date will be obvious from the context).
      Nərmin
      11th August 2021 at 10:53
      Thanks a lot. I have another question: in what form can the dates of August 16, 17, 19 be written in the documents?
      Proofed
      11th August 2021 at 16:22
      Do you mean as a group of dates? As previously, this may depend on the situation (e.g., if you're following a specific style guide, whether the year will be clear from context, where you are writing the dates), but "August 16, 17, and 19" should be fine in most cases.
Nərmin
12th August 2021 at 09:21
Thank you very much!
André Nemésio
20th October 2021 at 21:12
Hi Cheryl! Congrats for your excellent job here! I wrote a Foreword for a friend's new book. At the end I inserted the date as "October of 2021" (just it, month and year). Is it correct or the "of" should be deleted and replaced by a comma ("October, 2021")? Thanks in advance!
    Proofed
    21st October 2021 at 09:57
    Hi, André. Just "October 2021" should be fine (the "of" is unnecessary and might sound a bit portentous, but you could probably include it if you preferred; the comma would be an error there, as you only need a comma in a date to separate two numerals, such as a date and a year).
PROF DR ANDRÉ NEMÉSIO (UFU INBIO)
22nd October 2021 at 02:14
Thank you very much!!!

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