Which of the following way of writing date is more common or recommended for using in British English in official and formal documents, and why?




Or they are both the same and it's a matter of style?

  • 2
    I don't think there is a rule. Some also write: 9/04/2018. It depends on the "style sheet" you want to use. – Lambie Apr 12 '18 at 16:12
  • Apparently ISO 8601 is standard for many applications, with the notation YYYY-MM-DD. This is probably not common in correspondence, but is preferred when accuracy and compatibility are factors. It's good that you limited this to British English, but you should go further and define the specific context the date will be used. – Andrew Apr 12 '18 at 17:14
  • @Andrew. Done. When I saw your question firstly I thought that your answer is sarcasm but then I found that it is amazing comment when I found this ISO protocol en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601 – Judicious Allure Apr 12 '18 at 17:32
  • If you want to be understood internationally, 4 JUL 2018, 18 AUG 1975. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 12 '18 at 18:20
  • 3
    @Archimedean_Point thanks, glad this is useful information. In things like medicine and engineering, ISO 8601 is clear and unambiguous, while something like 9-4-2018 is not. In the US this is commonly interpreted as September 4th, 2018, but elsewhere in the world it may be April 9th, 2018. That being said, I think your answer will still depend on specific context -- for example, UK government agencies have a specific style sheet they are expected to follow, which includes date formats. gov.uk/guidance/style-guide – Andrew Apr 12 '18 at 18:37

The formats both mean the same thing (either April 9 or September 4). Stating numbers without leading zeroes is the standard when mentioning a date in isolation or as part of a sentence, e.g. "The tournament will start accepting entries on 4/9/2018."

Normally you would use leading zeroes in your date format when you have a column of dates and you want your column to look good and be more readable; having the date parts aligned vertically is much more visually pleasing than letting them jump around. Consider:

the ugly way:

prettier, easier to read:

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes, but everyone says/writes 9/11, not 09/11 (and I've already forgotten the year! :( – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 12 '18 at 16:52
  • 9/11 is a special case, so is the British one, 7/7. – Lambie Apr 12 '18 at 19:17
  • @FumbleFingers it was 2001. (Also that falls under the "in isolation or as part of a sentence" situation, where you don't want leading zeroes.) – Hellion Apr 12 '18 at 19:19
  • 2
    The zeroes can also help with sorting, although YYYY-MM-DD is best for that. – amI Apr 12 '18 at 20:20
  • I just noticed today that my driver's license uses leading zeroes on all dates (date of birth, expiration date, etc.), even though these dates aren't in columns. – J.R. Apr 13 '18 at 21:00

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