How to write dates in British and American English

writing dates in EnglishCalendar dates can be written in a wide variety of ways in English, and often depend on formal or informal writing, personal style and whether you are writing British or American English. Whatever the format, in British English, dates are usually written in the order day – month – year , while in American English they are written month – day – year. Here are some common ways to write dates for each:

 

Writing Dates in British English

For British English,  day followed by month followed by year, the 13th day of the month April, year 2014, might be written in full (in order of complexity):

  • 13 April
  • 13 April 2014
  • 13th April 2014
  • the 13th of April 2014
  • the 13th of April, 2014,

These are all possible, and a matter of choice. The more complicated the style of date, the more formal it is.

In the later examples, the and of are optional, but if you do use them you must add both the and of; it would be incorrect to say only 13th of April or the 13th April.

In British English, commas are not necessary (although can be used to separate month an year, as a matter of style).

If you wish to add the name of the day, it should come before the date, and should either be separated by a comma or joined by the and of.

  • Sunday, 13 April 2014
  • Sunday the 13th of April, 2014

 

Writing Dates in American English

In American English, the month comes before the day, which means you cannot use of and rarely use ordinal numbers (adding st, nd, rd, th). Commas should also be used to separate the day and year, and again the name of the day should come at the beginning. The date should therefore be written:

  • April 13
  • April 13, 2014
  • Sunday, April 13, 2014

April the 13th or April 13th are not incorrect, but are much less common now.

 

Numerical date formats

In both British and American English, the date can be written in abbreviated forms, either as a group of numbers (separated by hyphens, slashes or periods), or with the first few letters of the month. The date should be in day – month – year or month – day – year format depending on British or American use.

         British Abbreviated Dates

  • 13/04/14, 13.04.14, 13-04-14
  • 13/04/2014, 13.04.2014, 13-04-2014
  • 13Apr2014, 13-Apr-14

         American Abbreviated Dates

  • 04/13/14, 04.13.14, 04-13-14
  • 04/13/2014, 04.13.2014, 04-13-2014
  • Apr. 13, 2014
  • Year before month

In some circumstances, you may find the year comes before the month, then the day (a reverse of the standard British format). This is not common in English speaking countries, except in some technical texts.

 

Which style to choose?

Choosing which style you write the date in depends on how formal you wish the document to be, and how much space you have. However, there are only two things that are really important, whichever style you choose:

  1. Write the date in the correct format for that style
  2. Be consistent

Do not use different styles within the same document, unless you have a good reason to.

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