5.14 Dates

For calendar dates, the common alphanumeric method remains acceptable, provided that cardinal numbers are used:

  • March 15, 1993 or 15 March 1993


  • March 15th, 1993 or March fifteenth, 1993

When the day and month only are given, cardinal or ordinal forms may be used:

  • recommended
    • August 17
    • August 17th
    • the 17th of August
    • the seventeenth of August
  • not recommended
    • 17 August

Note also the usage

  • He was on holiday from September 20 to 25 inclusive.


  • from September 20–25.

For the use of the comma in dates, see 7.20 Dates, geographical names and addresses.

The all-numeric form of dating may be more appropriate for such purposes as office memorandums and chronological files and on documents such as certificates, forms and plaques that are presented in both official languages. The format prescribed below is in accordance with the Treasury Board Federal Identity Program Manual, National Standard of Canada CAN/CSA-Z234.4-87 and International Standard ISO 2014. The year, month and day should be separated by a space or hyphen, as illustrated:

  • 1994 03 27 or 1994-03-27 (March 27, 1994)
  • 1995 06 02 or 1995-06-02 (June 2, 1995)

The advantage of international standardization in this format is that, whereas 2/06/95 could mean either June 2, 1995 or February 6, 1995, the form 1995-06-02 can mean only the former.

Dates are sometimes spelled out in cases such as the following:

  • the Fourth of July
  • during the seventies
  • He returned on the ninth of August. (reported speech)
  • I last saw him on November 11. By the morning of the twelfth he was dead.

Dates are spelled out in legal texts and in formal invitations and announcements:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Harold and Donna Delaney
    are pleased to announce
    the marriage of their daughter
    Angela Christina
    Edgar Melvin Mandeville
    Saturday the thirteenth of December
    nineteen hundred and ninety-seven

Year designations take the following forms:

  • the class of ’68
  • the 1880s
  • 1300 BC
  • AD 1300