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I have seen four different styles on how to format a date:

  1. 1 January 2018
  2. 1 January, 2018
  3. 1st January 2018
  4. 1st January, 2018

Which is used when and where? Which are common and why are there these four different types?

  • Although that has nothing to do with English, nor even with languages, you're lucky to be dealing with only four variants. Again luckily, none of those is a US American format which, in whatever style, would use Month Date Year, instead of the logical Date Month Year you looked at. If you don't use a major software suite such as MS Office, why does any of this worry you, please? If you do you Office or anything compatible, please spend even a few seconds checking out the date formats, then revisit your Question. – Robbie Goodwin Dec 13 '17 at 23:23
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    You can use the same date formats in any language, though, so it really isn't English-specific. I'm not sure if Writing would be a more likely place or not. – Hellion Dec 13 '17 at 23:49
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    Nemgathos, how would that be different in Arabic or Bantu, Finnish or Hungarian, Greek, Latin or Double Dutch? Your 'problem' is the same in any language, which makes it independent of language. You are lucky to be troubled by only four formats. You are not constrained by software. Everyone with significant experience of the world’s most common software knows that there, as in the real world, there are more date formats than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Nemgathos. Might it be more helpful if everyone else shrank their horizons to match yours, or if you expanded your viewpoint? – Robbie Goodwin Dec 13 '17 at 23:59
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    Your first one is used in the US as "military-style" dating. The other three I've never seen before; variants such as January 1, 2018 are far more common. And the ordinals (1st, 2nd, 3rd) are rarely used in written dates. It might have been easier to take this question seriously if you asked about more common styles and showed where you had found them; perhaps you would have had a less hostile reception at English Language Learners. – J.R. Dec 14 '17 at 0:51
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    Any research? No? Here it is: englishclub.com/vocabulary/time-date.htm – Maulik V Dec 14 '17 at 3:22
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The formats "1 January 2018" and "1st January 2018" are both widespread in Britain.

Including a comma before the year is less common and most style guides recommend against it. It has the undesirable effect that if you start a sentence with "On 1st January, 2018", you'll probably end up also putting a comma after "2018", and whether you do or not, it just looks odd. If you use commas both before and after "2018", it then looks as though the year is a parenthetical aside (set off by commas), and yet if you omit the second comma it looks as though the year belongs to the portion of the sentence after the comma rather than the portion before it.

Using superscript for the ordinal suffix is optional.

British speakers always pronounce the "1" as "the first" even when the date is written without the ordinal suffix. The word "of" is almost always pronounced, too, even though not written.

In American English, "January 1, 2018" is a common style, and including the comma is pretty much mandatory because otherwise you have two numbers coming together in an unpleasant or confusing way.

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Questions of style, rather than grammar, can only be answered by choosing to follow an established style guide or choosing the style you want to use and then being consistent. So, the only real answer here is to choose a style and follow it, consistently. The Chicago Manual of Style, for example, has an entire section on date formatting, although I don't think ordinals are ever used.

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All the formats are correct, especially in BrE. In AmE, you usually write as follows:

January 1, 2018

January 1st, 2018

As for the difference between 1 January (,) 2018 and 1st January (,) 2018, the use of ordinal numbers i.e. 1st, 2nd, etc. is less common.

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