Standard Date Format

An international standard exists to “provide an unambiguous and well-defined method of representing” numerical dates and times so as to avoid misinterpretation.¬†The standard was first published in 1988.

This standard date format can help prevent confusion if used properly and consistently – even if a shorter version (YYMMDD) is used instead of the official slightly longer standard (YYYYMMDD). It will be a thousand years before the shorter version becomes ambiguous.

Apple, Microsoft, WordPress and others do not use the international standard as the default date format in their operating systems or software.  However, it is easy to implement in MacOS, for example:

  • Choose System Preferences from under the Apple Menu
  • Click Language & Region under the Personal row at the top of the preferences window, then click Advanced
  • Click the Dates tab
  • In the Short, Medium, Long and Full fields, organize the dates in the format YYMMDD using the dropdown menus
  • Click OK, then close System Preferences

For consistency, consider collapsing the short, medium, long and full formats into the single system-wide format – YYMMD.