While managing my rss subscriptions, I noticed that some websites use confusing date formatting. For example: What date is 12/05/09?

Using Date Formats: 
MM/DD/YY (common in US), DD/MM/YY (common in Europe) and YY/MM/DD (used in Japan) are really confusing.

Dates used in web sites should be understandable for all cultures. The best practice for date formatting is using month names with 4 digit year. So the right formats for our example are - 12 May 2009 or May 12th, 2009.

displaying day and month information without a year
It is hard for users to understand if the post is up-to-date or not when displaying day and month information without a year


Second issue about date formatting is displaying day and month information without a year. It is hard for users to understand if the reading is relevant for them. Showing full date enables users to understand if the article/post/site is outdated or not.

Many blogs and websites display dates in confusing or incomplete formats. It is important to display dates in a way that they are complete and understandable in all cultures.

Want automatic updates? Subscribe to our RSS feed or
Get Email Updates sent directly to your inbox!

Currently rated 4.0 by 7 people

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Categories : All | Tips | Usability
Share & Support : del.icio.us | DZone it! | Kick it! | digg it! | Furl | Technorati


November 19. 2009 14:09

To tell you the truth I am also confused. Good thing you have pointed it our here and gave an example of what is right.  Smile

Walter | Reply

November 19. 2009 20:52

A good rule of thumb is that the separator between date parts will tell you the format - those three formats you mention don't actually use the same slash separator (unless the programmer is a moron, and I may fall into that category occasionally.)

1/2/09  is the American standard of M/D/Y

2-1-09  is the European standard of D-M-Y (which really makes more sense when you think about it - smallest to largest) but note it's a minus sign and not a dash separating them.

If the year comes first it's always YYYY-MM-DD  or YYYY/MM/DD (with a 4 digit year) so that's easy to identify.

Wikipedia lists the untold more.  Some countries separate by dots instead of slash or dash.

And then there's the Polish who sometimes use Roman numerals for the day...


Tony | Reply

December 3. 2009 20:37

Social comments and analytics for this post

This post was mentioned on Twitter by bloggingdev: 2 Usability Issues on Date Formating - Choosing the Right Date Formating http://su.pr/APZwAm

uberVU - social comments | Reply

December 7. 2009 00:59

ISO 8601 format (YYYY-MM-DD) is another good option, particularly when you don't want to deal with localization of the month names. For blogs, it would be nice if more authors favoured your month-name approach.

Mike | Reply

January 1. 2010 02:02

You have a really cool site here, I'm a big fan! Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to hearing more posts from you

Blogger Den | Reply

January 6. 2010 13:49

Hey, Thanks for pointing this issue i never think that my date format may cause the difficulty to point out the age of my post to visitor.

Love to know more such small but important issue.

Lifted Trucks | Reply

January 26. 2010 22:21

dd mmm yyyy (27 Oct 2010) : this type of format reads easily and it doesn’t take up too much space.  In some cases it’s harder to shift through a list of dates visually, but for the most part it works fine.  When constructing criteria or sql, my personal preference is still to go for yyyy/mm/dd, which is about the most universal you could be.

I/O Devices | Reply

March 5. 2010 20:47

This is really good, I knew that Europe did DD/MM/YY, but I didn't realize that Japan uses YY/MM/DD (most logical for sorting). I like your "12 May 2009" example the best—I think I'll adopt that.

Peter Coles | Reply

March 15. 2010 14:49

Real success comes in small portions day by day. You need to take pleasure in life's daily little treasures. It is the most important thing in measuring success.

fast cash loans | Reply

Add comment

(Will not be displayed!)