Writing about dates and times

Dates in running text should always be given in their full form

  • EXAMPLE:  6 June 2016 

For the short form, do not use leading zeros and write out the year in full. 

  • AVOID: 06 June 16

If the day of the week is included, there is no comma after the day.

  • EXAMPLE:  Wednesday 15 May 2016

Note (for your information):  in American usage: 

  • 23 July 2016 is 7/23/2016 and in the international dating system, it is 2016-07-23. 

Most common way to write the date in British English

The most common way to write the date in British English is to write the day first, followed by the month and then the year (without commas):  

EXAMPLE: 1 July 2014

AVOID: 1 July, 2014

AVOID: 1st of July 2014

AVOID: July 1, 2014

Avoiding redundancy

If the year in question is absolutely clear from the context, the year number may be left out:

  • EXAMPLE: on 23 July 2016, the Committee adopted this style, but subsequently on 2 August, it decided ...


When referring to decades write the decade without an apostrophe

EXAMPLE: 1990s

AVOID: 1990's

AVOID: the nineties

Systems of chronology

The letters AD come before the year number, whereas BC follows it



CE (Common Era), BCE (Before Common Era) and BP (Before Present) also follow the year number.




Time spans

Use a closed-up hyphen for year ranges:

EXAMPLE: 1939-1945, 2015-2021

Note that 2015/2016 = one year: marketing year, financial year, academic year.

More examples (date spans) 

EXAMPLE: from 2015 to 2016

AVOID:  from 2015-2016

EXAMPLE: between 2015 and 2020

AVOID: between 2015-2020

EXAMPLE: 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019 

AVOID: 1 May 2018-30 April 2019

Start dates

The following formulations may be used to set the start of a period:

EXAMPLE:  with effect from 1 January 2018

EXAMPLE:  shall take effect on 1 January 2018

EXAMPLE:  shall have effect on 1 January 2018

EXAMPLE:  shall enter into force on 1 January 2018

End dates

The following formulations may be used to set the end of a period:

EXAMPLE:  until 31 December 2017

EXAMPLE:  until the entry into force of the Act, or 31 January 2017, whichever is the earlier

EXAMPLE:  shall expire on 31 December 2017

EXAMPLE:  shall cease to apply on 31 December 2017

EXAMPLE:  shall apply until 31 December 2017

EXAMPLE:  not later than 31 December 2017

EXAMPLE:  by 31 December at the latest (This formulation should not be used for the end of the period of validity of acts because it would render that date imprecise)

NOTE:  the distinction between the use of ‘by’ and ‘until’ when setting time limits and periods:

EXAMPLE:  The report must be completed by 1 January 2018

EXAMPLE: The reference period of the report runs until 31 December 2017

AVOID: The report must be completed until 1 January 2018

Time limits

Dates as qualifiers. In general, dates and time spans precede the expression they qualify:

EXAMPLE:  the 2015-2019 work programme

AVOID: the work programme 2015-2019

EXAMPLE: the 2016/2017 financial year

AVOID: the financial year 2016/2017

EXAMPLE:  the 2018 action plan

AVOID:  the action plan 2018


Use the 24-hour system (or 12-hour system with a.m. and p.m.).

  • EXAMPLE: 17.30 
  • AVOID: 17.30 hrs
  • EXAMPLE: 5.30 p.m. (always use a point).

Avoid leading zeros 

  • EXAMPLE: 9.00
  • AVOID: 09.00

The full hour is written with zero minutes:

  • EXAMPLE: 12.00 (midday), 14.00, 24.00 (midnight).

When using the 12-hour system, write:

  • EXAMPLE:  2 p.m., 2 o’clock or 2.30 p.m.
  • AVOID: 2.00 p.m.

combining date and time

In running texts, combine dates and times with "at":

  • EXAMPLE:  Friday 2 July 2021 at 13.30 or Friday 2 July 2021 at 1.30 p.m.
  • AVOID: Friday 2 July 2021 at 13.30 p.m.

In calendars and lists of events, combine dates and times with a comma:

  • EXAMPLE: Friday 2 July 2021, 13.30 or Friday 2 July 2021, 1.30 p.m.
  • AVOID: Friday 2 July 2021, 13.30 p.m.


Language Boutique 'Writing Numbers – Periods or Commas?' Retrieved from https://language-boutique.com/lost-in-translation-full-reader/writing-numbers-points-or-commas.html