Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

We should all use ISO 8601 YYYY-MM-DD

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-06

Because you would like your blog posts read by as wide an audience as possible, not only geographically but as far in the future as possible, you should start using ISO (International Standards Organization) 8601 rules for representing dates (and times if relevant) as I do, i.e. YYYY-MM-DD format.

This avoids the confusion about whether you are using US MM-DD-YYYY or British DD-MM-YYYY formats, especially if you are referring to the 02-07-2009 which could be interpreted as the 2nd of July or the 7th of February, depending on who is reading it: 2009-02-07 is unambiguous.

Even those who have never seen the YYYY-MM-DD format before can easily figure out that it is a date, with the most significant part on the left and the least significant on the right, obeying the "most important thing first", otherwise known as "big-endian".

Besides, it’s trivial to sort things this way… it works in standard alphabetical sorts.

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2 Responses to “We should all use ISO 8601 YYYY-MM-DD”

  1. phil@vvb said

    When I was first at work, the desk calendars we got always contained, along with a thought for the day, a suggested date format for “man-to-man” communications.

    I always wondered what format one would use when writing to a woman and why it should vary.

  2. Dave Bath said

    Phil: Well, if that woman was a significant other, “n days until/after our anniversary” would certainly get brownie points!

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