06-26-99, 26-06-99, 1999-06-26

Why is there such a discrepancy? In the English-speaking part of North America, it would appear that it is much more common to go with the month, then the day whereas in Francophone North America and (a good part of) Europe, among other places, usage favors the reverse. If I’m not mistaken, official documents like treaties and the like specify the day and then the month (DONE, this____ day of____1999). In addition, if you asked someone today what day it is, odds are that he or she would answer: “the 26th”, and not “June 26th”. How did the habit of putting the month first come about?

As for standardization, isn’t it long overdue? Even in English-speaking North America, you can find both variations (i.e. 06-26 and 26-06), which doesn’t pose a real problem in this case. But what about 03-04, for instance: March 4th, April 3rd?

Finally, the “electronic mode” doesn’t seem to have caught on much, beyond the computer world. although it is interesting to note that, in this format, the month again comes first, so to speak. What are the odds that it will spread?

The US Navy officially uses tis format:

26 JUN 99

That way there isn’t room for much confusion, unless you aren’t sure if its supposed to be 1899, 1999, or 2099.

The problem with the Navy format is that it uses English. A univeral standard would be nice; I’ve seen people use Roman numerals for the month, so 26 VI 99, but that seems sort of awkward.

I think it’s another case, like the metric system, where America is just outa step with the rest of the world.

There’s a Wall Street Journal story here.
It’s within the last two weeks and will cost me $1.95 to call it up, so let’s work on memory.
Citizens (subjects?) of what would eventually become the U.S. used the day/month/year method of recording dates on a fairly regular basis until the split from Britain.
Then the “American” version of doing dates appeared in one document that started:
“July 4th, 1776.”

In genealogy, the standard seems to be 26/Jun/1999. This way there’s no confusion on the century. However, we’re still using the abreviation of months’ names in English.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

For sorting a year’s worth of documents chronologically, I think the American method is superior. You can quickly arrange everything in twelve tidy stacks, and then go from there. It’s also a matter of what you’re used to. Changing to the 26-6-99 system would be like having to learn to alphabetize using the last letter of each word.

Papabear - by that logic it would make more sense to put the year first, then the month, then the day. If I were dictator of the world that’s the way it would be.

Heck, why bother? why not replace with just one number? Stardate 2701.05 or whatever?

Interestingly, on the I-94 card (given to aliens upon arrival in the US) the space in which you write your birthdate specifies day-month-year. I’ve often wondered if this is for any reason other than the INS realising everybody else in the world would write it that way anyway.

Personally, I prefer the YYYYMMDD (19990626) format, lends to fast sorting.

>>while contemplating the navel of the universe, I wondered, is it an innie or outie?<<

—The dragon observes

The “info” given above about the dating format used by the US Navy (save the jokes, please) is incorrect. Feel free to check the US Navy Correspondence Manual, available at http://www.bupers.navy.mil , for verivication of the following format for today’s date:

In Standard Navy Letter:

-Date of the letter itself: 26 Jun 99
-Date in body of letter: 26 June 1999

In Navy Business letter:
-For both date of the letter itself and in body of the letter: June 26, 1999.

You will notice that in no instance is the 3 letter abbreviation for the month given in all upper-case letters.

An aside here, and one of my pet peeves, I quite often see the following incorrect format in Naval correspondence:


This is wrong for three reasons: (1) The name line is the only required line if not a signature for the business letter format; (2) In no case does the signature line, nor any other part of a Standard Navy Letter, contain fully justified paragraph margins; and (3) how the <ahem> are you going to type the signature block for J. Q. YI, YN1(SW/AW), USNR if that is correct?

BTW, “verivication” above should be “verification.”


& I just noticed the UBB removed the spaces from my example above for YN1 Public; the example of the incorrect format had the USN directly beneath the LIC; that is, until the UBB removed the spaces.

In other words, it should look like:

_____YN1 USN

Am I correct, Monty?

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”
–Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Nope, Ed; the correct signature block for YN1 Public should be:

For the Standard Navy Letter:

For the Navy Business Letter:

Petty Officer First Class, U.S. Navy
Leading Petty Officer

In both cases, the first letter of each line of the signature block begins at the center of the paper. In the Business Letter example, YN1 Public’s job title goes below his rank and branch.

Hey, I’m an admin type…

The international standard is 1999-06-26, but it’s taking time to catch on.

The 06/26/99 vs. 26/06/99 appears to reflect the spoken language. Americans say “June 26th”, while the British say “The 26th of June.”

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

And another thing that bugs me. Why do all American calendars start with Sunday? Makes no sense to me. Saturday and Sunday are called the week-end, and I like to be able to write across both days at once Gone to Big Bear, don’t try to call me.

Lots of calendar software doesn’t even allow you to change it and print Monday first! :frowning:

Jacques Kilchoer
Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

The previously mentioned Wall Street Journal article said that there is a new ISO standard, 8601, which opts for this format


A letter to the editor later said we should write as we speak. If we say “The fourth of July”, we should write “4 July”.

We say “the Fourth of July”, but only say that one day that way. July 1st, July 2nd, July 3rd, the Fourth of July, July 5th…

As to American calendars starting with Sunday, we do it because Sunday is the first day of the week and Saturday is the last; that’s the way it’s been for all of Christian history, and Jewish history before that. Making Sunday the last day of the week is the innovation, chiefly introduced to save paper by giving Saturday and Sunday half-size slots.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Why does the new standard use hyphens? They are excess baggage. To wit: Today is 1999-06-29 or 19990629. While we are at it, let’s blow the bank on this: this was written 19990629 17h18.

Mind you, if I were writing a love letter I would use an archaic & poetic date format. But for the purposes of business, when facility, clarity and precision are crucial, I say “in with the new.”