The interpretation of a date written in the ’02-12-06′ format can differ. For instance, a reader in the United States may interpret the above date as the 12th of February 2006, where as another from India or the United Kingdom may interpret the date as the 2nd of December 2006. A computer programmer may interpret the date as the 6th of December 2002. Avoid using all-digit date formats.
The most popular formats for expressing dates are 12th February 2006 (more formal,) 12 February, 2006 (the comma is optional) or 12-Feb-2006 (shorter, inexplicit form.)
- The most significant part of a date is the day. Hence, write the day first, followed by the month (spelled in complete or as a three-letter abbreviation) and then include the year. The least significant part of a date is the year; you may omit the year in informal communication.
- You can easily avoid confusing a reader about your intended date format by spelling out the entire month or by using a three-letter abbreviation for the month. Further, in speech or thought, we rarely express months in terms of numbers. For instance, while reading out a date, we rarely express February as the second month of the year.
Whatever format you choose to use, be consistent throughout a document: use an identical format all the dates in the document. Consistency in formats is important for both form and function of the dates.
P. S: International Standard ISO 8601 stipulates numeric representations for date and time. The international standard date notation is YYYY-MM-DD. Accordingly, you would denote the 12th of February 2006 as 2006-02-12. Clearly, this format does not impart order-preference to the more significant parts of the date, viz., the day and the month. However, this date format offers advantages in computer usage; I plan to cover these in a future blog article.