How to Write Dates Correctly
3-minute read

How to Write Dates Correctly

There are many different ways to write dates, so knowing which one to use in your work can be difficult. At a basic level, you need to get the format and information correct. But you also need to consider whether the style in which you’ve written the date is appropriate for your document.

Read on, then, for our guide on how to write dates correctly.

Keeping It Formal

In formal writing, especially in the main body of an essay, it’s best to write out the date in full. This can be done with an ordinal signifier (‘th’, ‘rd’ or ‘st’) after the date in superscript, like this:

23rd October 2016

However, if preferred, you can leave out the superscript before the year:

23 October 2016

Sometimes, people put a comma before the year, but this is only really necessary in the US date format (see below).

Moreover, in some situations, you may want to include the day of the week in the date, especially if it has specific connotations (e.g. Friday the 13th).

Shorter Form Dates

In less formal writing, a shorter date format can be used. This typically uses only numbers separated by full stops or slashes, rather than writing out the month. Shortening the year is also acceptable, such as in the following:

  • 23.10.16
  • 23/10/2016

You can also write out the date but shorten the month to save space:

  • 14 January 2016 → 14 Jan 2016
  • 9 October → 9 Oct

Although these options are easy to understand and perfectly acceptable in most writing, they are not typically correct in an academic context.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Australian vs. American Dates

Another thing to keep in mind is that the date format is different in different places. In Australia, we use a day, month, year format, as shown above.

In America, the month comes first. As such, we can reformat some of the examples above to compare how they’d appear in Australia and America:

Australian Date US Date
23rd October 2016 October 23, 2016
23.10.16 10.23.16
14 Jan 2016 Jan 14, 2016

 
As you can see above, we’ve used a comma in the US dates to separate the day and the year, both of which are numbers.

We’ve also left out the ordinal ‘rd’ in the first example, as this is not used in the US date format. If we wanted to use an ordinal number in American English, we would write ‘the 23rd of October’.

The fact that the day and month are swapped around can lead to confusion, especially if written in number form, so do be aware of this!

The International Date Format

Finally, if you’re sharing information across the world, you may want to use the international date format (ISO 8601). This is a standardised format that works across borders, so it is commonly used by government organizations and global businesses. And it always uses the format YYYY-MM-DD, which removes any chance of confusion:

We sent the invoice on 2020-07-10.

The date above, for example, denotes the 10th of July 2020.

How to Write the Date in Academic Writing

There is no single ‘correct’ way to write the date in an essay, but it’s usually better to use a formal approach. Check your university style guide and see what it recommends. If it doesn’t specify a format, pick one you feel is appropriate and use it consistently throughout your document.

If you would like to have a 500-word sample of your work proofread for free, get in touch with the professionals at Proofed today!

Comments (66)
Frank
29th November 2016 at 14:20
so many people in my organization mis-match the "day of the week" and the date when sending emails to set up meetings and events! Can someone write an app. that day of week/date checks and flags mis-matches? Like a spell check, but for day of week and dates. It is such a time waster when somebody emails "meeting on Wed. Nov. 29th, to have to confirm if they really meant Tues. Nov. 29th, or Wed. Nov. 30th???
Marcel
13th May 2018 at 12:07
So "Monday the 30th of April 2018" is propellery written in the UK?
    Proofed
    14th May 2018 at 14:48
    Hi, Marcel. Yes, that would be one way to write the date in the UK (or in any English-speaking country outside the USA). You could shorten it if you like (e.g. exclude the 'Monday', unless the day is important). But that is the correct way to write it in full.
Janath Caldera
15th May 2018 at 01:18
Hi, When I am writing a report, I come across a situation where I am aware that some event took place but unsure about the exact date that happened. In this kind of situation, can you please advise how I can record about the time of the event in the report?
    Proofed
    15th May 2018 at 10:00
    Hi, Janath. It would depend on the situation and subject. If you don't know the exact date and you cannot find it anywhere, you could just give the month and/or year (e.g. In June 1987...). If it's a historical date and you can't pinpoint a particular year, you can use 'circa' or 'c.' to indicate an approximate date (e.g. The church was built c. 1540).
michael lanphier
30th May 2018 at 15:38
I was told I used improper grammar when I considered writing the date on a headstone; December 27th, 1985 October 26th, 2017
    Proofed
    31st May 2018 at 09:24
    Hi, Michael. What was the grammatical issue? The date format you use there is American (see the Australian vs. American Dates section of the blog post). That isn't a grammatical issue, but it would be incorrect in Australia. In Australian English, we would typically write those dates as follows: 27th December, 1985 26th October, 2017
      Elise
      30th May 2019 at 07:15
      In American English it is considered incorrect to use an ordinal number in writing dates. Thus, in American English, it should be December 27, 1985, not December 27th, 1985. You can however use an ordinal if you write, "the 27th of December, 1985."
      Proofed
      30th May 2019 at 07:34
      Thank you for the information, Elise. We've updated the US English section accordingly.
Julia Williams
1st June 2018 at 12:25
Is it correct to write the date as follows? the fourth of April 2018
    Proofed
    1st June 2018 at 14:29
    Hi, Julia. That date format is entirely correct in Australian English, especially if you are using it in a formal context.
JUANELLA
11th June 2018 at 15:39
I write contract dates as 7-1-14/7-1-15. Is this correct?
    Proofed
    11th June 2018 at 16:03
    Hi, Juanella. If you are referring to a range of dates on a contract, it would probably be better to write them out in full to avoid confusion (e.g. the dates in your example would read as 7 January in Australia or the UK, but the 1st of July in the US). In addition, if you are writing a range of dates you should use the word 'to' or a dash to indicate this (not a forward slash, which suggests the dates are interchangeable). If you are simply referring to a contracted (i.e. shortened) date format, then the dates you write there seem perfectly fine in terms of format. In Australia format, they would indicate 7 January 2014 and 7 January 2015. Is this what you intended?
Haridas Arakkal
9th October 2018 at 06:08
Hi, out of this which is accurate.? 23rd October 2018 or 23 October 2018
    Proofed
    9th October 2018 at 09:19
    Hi, Haridas. Either of those would be fine; it's just a matter of preference.
Tolulope Ahmed
12th October 2018 at 12:37
Hi! Reading through the comments above and noting the ones you've approved to be correct, are these formats wrong? 12th day of October, 2018 12th day of October 2018 12th October, 2018 I also read in Grammarly that when writing dates, commas are used to separate two words (e.g. Friday, October 12) or two numbers (e.g. October 12, 2018) but not to be used in-between a word and a number. I'm confused because I can see some approved dates above that do not follow this rule (e.g. the date written in the article: Jan 14 2016). Please help clarify. Thanks.
    Proofed
    13th October 2018 at 09:31
    Hi, Tolulope. Of the three dates you list, only '12th October, 2018' follows a standard format. Adding 'day of' is unnecessary. As for the comma, you can certainly use one to separate the elements in a date. It is not to do with numbers and words, though; it is to do with the different parts of a date: i.e. day of the week, day of the month, month, year. However, the comma is just a matter of stylistic choice, so you don't have to include one anywhere unless you want to (American English tends to use one between the day and year, though).
    Becca
    20th September 2019 at 14:55
    All three are correct. The "day of" is usually used in most legal documents. The first two can be used and the placement of the comma really depends on the Attorney and what they prefer. However, use it consistently one way throughout the entire document. I normally use the 20th day of October, 2019 variation.
Mary Nobles
23rd October 2018 at 02:22
What is the correct way to write October 26-27,2028
    Proofed
    23rd October 2018 at 08:31
    Hi, Mary. The standard format for that date in Australian English would be 26-27 October, 2028. The version you've written is the US date format.
Moira
8th November 2018 at 16:00
When writing a formal letter, is it correct to date the letter as follows: 11th October 2018. Is it allowed to use the "th" after 11?
    Proofed
    8th November 2018 at 16:45
    Hi, Moira. It is fine to say '11th October 2018'. The 'th' is optional, though, so you could just write '11 October 2018' if you prefer.
saqib
9th January 2019 at 08:24
What is the correct way to write 28 January - 01 February 2019
    Proofed
    9th January 2019 at 10:59
    Hi, Saqib. As a date range, your version is fine as it is for the standard Australian date format. You could use other styles, too, such as dropping the '0' before the '1' (i.e. 28 January – 1 February 2019) or adding suffixes and 'of' after the numbers (i.e. 28th of January – 1st of February 2019). But this is a matter of preference.
Homer Simpson
29th January 2019 at 21:24
ISO 8601 Look it up. Any other format for dates in the age of the Internet is just asking for trouble: "Let's meet on 01/02/03". Good luck decoding that.
    Proofed
    30th January 2019 at 10:02
    That is a thing, but it is not how most people approach dates on a day-to-day basis. Our post is about standard date formats in different parts of the world. Thanks, though.
Geeta Sravani Senapati
4th February 2019 at 17:06
feb. 13 is a correct format or not
    Proofed
    5th February 2019 at 09:15
    Hi, Geeta. 'Feb. 13' would be the US date format. In Australian English, the day usually goes before the month, so it would be '13 Feb.'
Joe
27th February 2019 at 02:10
What is the correct way to write a few dates ? Is 1 Jan, 1 Feb, 1 Mar and 1 Apr 2019 acceptable in formal and informal writing?
    Proofed
    27th February 2019 at 09:51
    Hi, Joe. '1 Jan, 1 Feb, 1 Mar and 1 Apr 2019' is fine, although if you were writing something very formal you might not want to abbreviate the months. For instance, a more formal alternative might be 'the first of January, February, March and April 2019'.
Cassandra
4th March 2019 at 18:02
Hi I am still looking for the answer to.... Is it correct to say May 5th, 2018 or should it be May 5, 2018? The "th" in the former format appears incorrect to use in formal writing. What do we think?
    Proofed
    5th March 2019 at 09:28
    Hi, Cassandra. The 'th' is optional, but it is fine to use it if you want to. The main thing I would note is that, in Australian English, we put the day before the month. As such, you would want to write 'the 5th of May 2018' or '5 May 2018'.
Claire Mc Nama
24th March 2019 at 11:42
Is it correct to write the following: My birthday is on the 1st of April.
    Proofed
    25th March 2019 at 09:27
    Hi, Claire. That date format is correct for Australian English, yes.
Candi Gregoire
28th March 2019 at 13:27
I'm custom embroidering a handkerchief and they want, "3-2020." Is it better to write, "March, 2020?" It looks funny without the exact date.
    Proofed
    28th March 2019 at 13:47
    Hi, Candi. I agree that 'March 2020' (no comma required*) looks better. However, if the recipient asked specifically for '3-2020', I guess it's ultimately their choice. Maybe you can suggest both options and see which one they prefer? * In case you're wondering, we only usually put a comma in a date to separate two numbers (e.g. the day and year in the US date format). So if you're writing 'March' as a word and '2020' as numbers, you won't need a comma there.
      Candi Gregoire
      30th March 2019 at 15:19
      Thanks so much. It looks better written out as a word but as you said, it's up to the customer.
Anna Yuen
11th April 2019 at 13:17
Hi, I would write Friday, April 10 but Friday, 10 April looks odd.
    Proofed
    11th April 2019 at 14:47
    Hi, Anna. As we say in the blog post, it all depends on where you're from. 'April 10' is the standard date format in the United States, but Australian English usually places the day before the month. As such, if you are including the day of the week in the date, 'Friday, 10 April' would be correct. You could also say 'Friday the 10th of April' if you prefer, although that may seem overly formal in modern English.
Nicolas
9th May 2019 at 13:30
Is it OK to use dates as premodifiers (for instance, of the word 'letter', as in 'The 12 October 2014 letter contained sensitive information')?
    Proofed
    9th May 2019 at 15:43
    Hi, Nicolas. It may depend on what you are writing. Something like 'The 12 October 2014 letter' should be easy enough to understand in context, as it obviously refers to the date of the letter (or I assume it does anyway). But in formal writing, it would be more usual to say 'The letter dated 12 October 2014', so I would suggest this approach most of the time. If you want to be sure your writing is clear, feel free to submit it for proofreading.
Isabella
10th May 2019 at 14:01
Hi. Which date format would be correct... where does the comma go and is the 'th' compulsory? Thursday, 9th May 2019 Thursday 9th, May 2019 Thursday 9th May, 2019 Thursday, 9th May, 2019 Thursday, 9 May 2019 Thursday 9, May 2019 Thursday 9 May, 2019 Thursday, 9 May, 2019
    Proofed
    11th May 2019 at 09:57
    Hi, Isabella. We touch upon this in the article, but as a reminder: - The comma, if used, goes before the year, although this is only necessary in the US date format. - The superscript is entirely option. As such, the best way to write that date in Australian English would be: Thursday 9th May 2019 or Thursday 9 May 2019
Ashok Raina
4th June 2019 at 12:28
If I have to write 04/06/2019 what should I do? I want to write the date as 2019/06/04. Is this correct?
    Proofed
    4th June 2019 at 14:40
    Hi, Ashok. As we describe in our blog post, the standard date format in Australia is Day/Month/Year. Year/Month/Day is used in a few settings, often as an international standard when dealing with multiple countries, but you would not use it for general purposes. As to how you should write the date you mention, assuming it is today's date (i.e. the 4th of June 2019), you would usually write 04/06/2019 in Australian English.
Pebryanto Putra
25th July 2019 at 07:47
What is th,st,rd and why use that,in Indonesia there is no th,st,rd
    Proofed
    25th July 2019 at 15:53
    Hi, Pebryanto. The letters are because dates use ordinal numbers. For instance, 1 January is the first day of January, so some people write 'the 1st of January', taking the 'st' from the end of the word 'first'. The same applies with the other letters (e.g. fourth = 4th, third = 3rd). These are not usually necessary when writing the date, though, so don't feel like you have to use them. For more information on ordinal numbers, we have a dedicated blog post on the topic: https://proofreadmydocument.com.au/writing-tips/cardinal-and-ordinal-numbers/
Zaw Hlaing Moe
24th August 2019 at 08:17
Which one is correct (1)the 23th day of August 2019 (2) the 23rd day of August 2019
    Proofed
    26th August 2019 at 11:02
    Hi there. The correct way to write that date would be 'the 23rd of August 2019' (no 'day' required, typically). More generally, any cardinal number except '13' that ends in a '3' will take 'rd' when presented as an ordinal number (e.g. 3 = 3rd, 23 = 23rd, 33 = 33rd, 103 = 103rd).
Todd
7th September 2019 at 13:15
Which is correct October 8, 1994-2019 or October 8 1994-2019
    Proofed
    11th September 2019 at 12:55
    Hi, Todd. It may depend on what you're trying to say. Is it something like '8 October 1994 to 8 October 2019'? Either way, if you're using the Australian date format, the day goes before the month, so you wouldn't need a comma to separate the numbers.
eve
30th September 2019 at 18:17
is it wrong if I say 1st of October?
    Proofed
    1st October 2019 at 08:13
    Hi, Eve. '1st of October' is correct. If it is part of a sentence, you might say 'the 1st of October', though.
Mike
15th October 2019 at 16:52
Is it alright to list a date range for September 23rd through September 24th as 9/23-9/24/19?
    Proofed
    16th October 2019 at 07:57
    Hi, Mike. It would depend on the context to some extent, but I think a clearer way of writing it (and assuming we're sticking to a US date format rather than an Australian one) would be 'September 23-24, 2019'.
Jacque Mason
23rd October 2019 at 10:30
Is it correct to say Wednesday, October 22 or Wednesday, October 22nd? Excluding the year.
    Proofed
    23rd October 2019 at 16:14
    Hi, Jacque. As you can see in the post, we use the Australian date format, which puts the day before the month. You are currently using the US date format, where the month goes after the day. That's fine if you're writing for a US audience, but otherwise we would recommend sticking to the standard AUS format. As for excluding the year, that is fine as long as your reader will implicitly know the year from context. And if your question was about whether you need 'nd' after '22', that is simply a matter of preference.
Emma Thorlby-Witham
15th February 2020 at 10:00
Hello. Which is correct "Sunday 23rd February 2020" or "Sunday 23rd of February 2020". I am unsure about the use of the word "of". I know when we speak of the that the word "of" is said, but I have not often seen it written. How correct, formal, when should the use of the word "of" be used?
    Proofed
    15th February 2020 at 11:55
    Hi, Emma. Ultimately, either form is acceptable and there are no strict rules about when to use 'of'. I'd even say that both examples there are fairly formal compared to shorter forms, such as '23/2/2020'. However, if you were using them in prose (i.e. as part of a full sentence rather than writing a date in isolation) and you wanted to be extra formal, you might opt for something like 'Sunday the 23rd of February 2020'.
Emma Thorlby-Witham
15th February 2020 at 10:03
Correction to typographical error above: ... "I know when we speak of a date the word “of” is often said, but ....."
Farhad
28th February 2020 at 11:41
hi there. which one is correct? - "when's your birthday?" + it's on June 21. or... + it's on June 21th. and... how do you read the first one if it is correct?
    Proofed
    28th February 2020 at 18:12
    Hi, Farhad. The correct format and version for a date in Australian English would be '21st June' or '21 June' ('June 21st' is the US date format). As for pronunciation, it is pronounced 'twenty-first'. Hope that helps.
Farhad
28th February 2020 at 11:43
oops! *21st!
Cherith
20th July 2020 at 22:21
I'm checking to see which date is written correctly...has successfully completed all requirements for the completion of 8th Grade this 25th day of July, 2020 OR 25th of July 2020?
    Proofed
    21st July 2020 at 11:27
    Hi, Cherith. Either would be fine other than the comma before the year in the first one (you don't typically need a comma to separate the month and year in the Australian date format). The form 'this Xth day of Month' is very formal, though (e.g. you might see it in legal writing), so the best option may depend on the context in which you're using the date.

Upload a document

Instant Quote

Need more help perfecting your writing?

Proofed has the perfect editor!

Instant Quote

Price
$25.00

You can also upload a document to get an instant quote

Icon of cloud upload

Drag & drop your file

or browse your computer

Browse from your device

Icon of cloud upload

Drop your file here!

Icon of loading status

Your file is being
uploaded!

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.