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Can the date be written in only one way that's considered correct? Which comes first, the month or the day? To what extent can we even date this Does it matter when a date is written out completely in words versus when it is written out only using numbers? Why not use shortened forms To what extent should commas be used Do you say "September 21st" or "September 21"? Is there a system to follow, or does everyone just do what works for them?

Some sources agree, but others provide answers that vary depending on the question's context.

Words only

When writing something as formal as a contract, invitation, plaque, or presentation document, it is customary to type out the entire date. The months and days of the week are capitalized, but the years are not.

dated this 16th day of June, 1997
Today is Saturday, December 7th, 2002, which is:

Only in contracts and other legal documents is it acceptable to write out a date in both numerals and letters, with the latter enclosed in parentheses. In cases where such "legalese" is required, the following templates can be used:

Starting in the year 1999 and lasting all the way through the close of the year 2010
This time period will begin in 1999 and run through the end of 2010.

Characters and digits

Dates should be written either 14 July 2002 or July 14, 2002, according to most authorities, and they recommend writing the full month in letters, academic papers, and reports. In the day-month-year sequence, no comma is used, but if the month comes first, one is used after the day. The same holds true for the year within a sentence.

There should be no commas before, after, or in the middle of the parts of a date written in the format day-month-year.

Tensions were barely eased at the meeting on January 10, 1996.

However, if the order is month-day-year, a comma separates the day and year, and a comma should normally come after the year in the main part of a sentence or equivalent:

On September 11, 2001, a new era began.
On that fateful Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a new era began.

No comma should be used if only the month and year are given:

It wasn't until February of 2002 that the submission was approved by the Treasury Board.

Section 7 of The Canadian Style (1997) 20 (revised examples)

Either a cardinal number or an ordinal number

You can write a date as either a cardinal or ordinal number, or you can write out the whole date in words, despite the fact that dates are read aloud as ordinal numbers (September 21). If the year is included (September 21st, 2004 or September twenty-first, 2004), it is not preferred that the date be written as an ordinal number. The cardinal form should be used as of September 21, 2004.

The difference between date cardinals and ordinals RECOMMENDED It is NOT suggested that you do this. Wednesday, September 21
Friday, September 21

date: September 21 Dates without the year attached:
The 21st of September Monday, September 21, 2004

Date: September 21, 2004

Date and year: September 21st, 2004 (ordinary number)

Date: September 21, 2004

Shortenings and abbreviations

The Canadian Style and other guides recommend not abbreviating months outside of tables, forms, and references. The months can be shortened to just three letters if necessary, as shown below:

Jan  Feb  Mar  Apr  May Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov  Dec

One thing to take note of is that the month of May is not abbreviated, so there is no period after it.

When space is at a premium, we use the usual month abbreviations. One-letter abbreviations for January, August, and May are common, as the corresponding meanings are readily apparent when the months are placed in a calendar or list.

and one- and two-letter combinations where both clarity and space are paramount:

Ja F Mr Ap My Je Jl Au S O N D

Class of 1999; flood of 2005 (but is that 1905 or 2005?) both use apostrophes to show that the years have been abbreviated. ) When referring to a specific decade, you can either write it out in full (the twenties) or add an s to the end of the number. Keep in mind that while The Canadian Style recommends the forms without an apostrophe (the 1960s, the 1970s), other style guides consider the apostrophe optional (the 1940's or the 1990's). Whenever there is a special nickname for a decade, such as the Roaring Twenties, the Dirty Thirties, or the Swinging Sixties, both words are capitalized. All references to centuries are written in lower case:

time period known as the 20th century

century, twenty-first; also, 21st century

That would be the 20th century, not the 20th.

Error: it is the 21st century, not the 20th.

Only numerals

When the information in question is destined to be processed by a computer, many people and businesses prefer to use only numbers for dates. This not only makes the data more legible across languages, but it also makes it possible to sort and perform mathematical operations on the data with no further manipulation required. But as any Canadian will tell you, there are a few different ways to represent dates in numerals. The Europeans prefer the month-day-year format, while the Americans are adamant that it be the other way around. Whence comes the answer to this dilemma?

Thankfully, ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) has taken into account this issue, and a standard, ISO 8601, has been published. Although the standards for verbal dates are not covered, this document covers the date and time formats used in information interchange. All-numerical dates must adhere to the standards laid out in chapter 1 of the Federal Identity Program Manual, which is the Canadian government's official guide. 2), which directs readers to the most recent version of a national or international standard (i.e., e ISO 8601:2000)

Dates and times must be written in descending order of magnitude from left to right in accordance with ISO 8601:2000. Dates may be written in either the conventional format of YYYYMMDD or the more precise format of YYYY-MM-DD. The extended format (with hyphens) is used when the document is meant for general readers, while the basic format (without hyphens) is used when computer readability and storage space are of primary importance.

July 1, 2002 = 20020701 = 2002-07-01


  • In accordance with Chapters 4 of the Canadian Style (1997 17, 5 25, 5 14 and 7 20
  • ISO 8601:2000, Second Edition, International Organization for Standardization We refer to this standard as ISO 8601:2000(E).
  • Markus Kuhn's summary of the ISO 8601 standard for time and date notation is available online at (www) (en).
  • Pages 26 and 27 of the Federal Identity Program Manual (1990)
  • Specifically, Sections 345, 409-410, and 437-439 of the 1999 Canadian edition of the Gregg Reference Manual

Article from "Services publics et approvisionnement Canada, 2023"
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