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numeric date

The all-numeric form of dating may be more appropriate than a date written in full 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.

Recommended format

Because different formats are used for writing numeric dates, confusion can easily arise. In a date such as 03/04/15, for example, the reader cannot be sure whether the intended date is March 4, 2015, or 3 April 2015. (And if the document is old, the date might even represent April 15, 2003.)

For the sake of clarity, therefore, write a numeric date in one of the formats recommended by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The ISO recommends writing numeric dates in descending order-year, month, day-with the year written in full. The dates can be presented in three different ways:

  • with hyphens: 2014-08-16
  • with spaces: 2014 08 16
  • without hyphens or spaces: 20140816

The last format should be used only when space is limited.

Note: For Government of Canada documents, the Translation Bureau recommends the first option, i.e. the use of a hyphen to separate the elements of the date:

  • 2014-03-04 (stands for March 4, 2014)

Additional information

For information on the recommended order for the elements in a date in English and in French, see DATE: ORDER OF ELEMENTS (LINGUISTIC RECOMMENDATION FROM THE TRANSLATION BUREAU).