Dates and times Edit

Note: Highlight: Use the day of week, month dd, year date format to express dates. Express time in the 12-hour format and always include AM and PM. Use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and always include the time zone for real times.

In general, spell out months and days whenever possible. Use the day of week, month dd, year date format. For example, use Sunday, August 16, 2020. Express time in the 12-hour format, capitalize AM and PM, and include the time zone.

Expressing dates and times in a clearly defined manner reduces confusion and improves translation support for a global audience.

Expressing times Expressing times

Use the following guidelines to express time:

  • Express time in the 12-hour format. Use the 24-hour format only when absolutely needed. If a particular UI, statement or code example uses the 24-hour format, then use that format throughout the page for consistency.
  • Use numerals to express times of the day.
  • Always include AM and PM. Insert a space between the time and AM or PM and ensure that it is capitalized.

Example

Tip: Recommended: 4:32 PM, 12:00 PM, 7:15 AM.

  • For time ranges, use the word to instead of the en dash. Use an en dash with no surrounding spaces for a schedule or listing.
    Examples

    Tip: Recommended: The server was down from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM.


    Tip: Recommended: The meeting is scheduled from 15:00–16:00 UTC.


    Exception: For date ranges consisting of two dates and times, use an en dash with spaces surrounding the dash.
    Examples

    Tip: Recommended: 7:30 AM–9:15 AM 05/11/2020 (time range on a single day)


    Tip: Recommended: 7:30 AM 04/11/2020 – 9:15 AM 05/11/2020 (date and time range)

  • It is acceptable to remove the minutes from round hours.
    Example

    Tip: Recommended: 4 PM.

  • Using noon and midnight is acceptable, but not when paired with time in the numeral format.
    Example

    Warning: Not recommended: 12:00 noon, 12:00 midnight

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Time zones Time zones

Generally, include the time zone if your documentation influences a global audience. Otherwise, avoid using time zones unless absolutely necessary, where excluding them would cause confusion. You don’t need to include the time zone where the reader’s local time is shown automatically.

Use the following guidelines to express time zones:

  • Capitalize time zones. Don’t abbreviate them unless absolutely needed.
  • Specify the spelled-out time zone region and then the UTC or GMT offset in parentheses. Don’t insert spaces around the hyphen (-) or plus sign (+).

Examples

Tip: Recommended: US Eastern Time (UTC-05:00)


Tip: Recommended: Indian Standard Time (UTC+05:30)

  • If the time is the reader’s local time, indicate it accordingly.

Example

Tip: Recommended: The weekly team meeting will start at 7:30 PM your local time.

  • Use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) over Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in general. Don’t write Universal Time Coordinate or Universal Time Coordinated as alternatives to Coordinated Universal Time. Only use GMT unless absolutely needed.
  • For time zones without names, use the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) offset. If you’re writing about a particular geographic area, specify the country or region if UTC is unavailable.

Examples

Tip: Recommended: UTC+7


Tip: Recommended: Standard Time (Fiji)

  • Don’t specify standard time or daylight saving time unless specifically writing about them. When the time doesn’t change for daylight saving time, use the specific time zone without reference to UTC.

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Expressing dates Expressing dates

Spell out the names of months and days of the week. Write the full four-digit year, rather than a two-digit abbreviation. If including the day of the week, add it before the month and insert a comma after it. Capitalize the first letter of the days of the week and months. Use the day of week, month dd, year format.

Don’t use ordinal numbers to indicate a date.

Examples

Warning: Not recommended: August 16th 2020


Tip: Recommended: August 16, 2020


Tip: Recommended: Sunday, August 16, 2020

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Abbreviated and partial dates Abbreviated and partial dates

While indicating only the month and year in a date, don’t use a comma.

Example

Tip: Recommended: The latest version was released in May 2020.

Don’t abbreviate the days of the week or the month unless absolutely necessary, although abbreviating is acceptable in UI, tables, or headings where space is limited. Abbreviate the days of the week to three-letter abbreviations like Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, and Sat and the month to three-letter abbreviations such as Jan, May, and Sep. Capitalize the first letter and don’t insert a period at the end of the abbreviation.

If you abbreviate, do so for the entire date. Don’t combine written-our forms with abbreviated forms in the same date.

Be consistent with your abbreviations throughout your documentation. For example, if you abbreviate dates in UI or tables, ensure that all subsequent instances of dates in UI or tables are abbreviated similarly.

Examples

Warning: Not recommended: Mon, November 24, 2020


Tip: Recommended: Mon, Nov 24, 2020

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Dates in the middle of a sentence Dates in the middle of a sentence

When indicating dates in the month dd, year format in the middle of a sentence, insert a comma after the year. However, if the date in the middle of the sentence consists of only the month and year, then don’t insert a comma after the year.

Examples

Tip: Recommended: It was only until May 4, 2020, that the latest version was released.


Tip: Recommended: It was only until May 2020 that the latest version was released.

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Numerical dates Numerical dates

Only express dates in the numerical format unless absolutely required. When indicating dates in a numerical date format, use the ISO 8601 international standard date format YYYY-MM-DD. Separate the year, month and day using hyphens.

Additionally, if you have a choice of what date to write (such as in a fictional example), then choose a calendar day greater than 12 to differentiate it from the month.

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Things to avoid while expressing dates Things to avoid while expressing dates

Generally, don’t express months as numerals, as the numerical date format is varied in different parts of the world.
For example, the date 01/02/20 is interpreted differently in different regions:

  • In the British date format, 01/02/20 means February 1, 2020. Here, the order is day, month, year.
  • In the American date format, 01/02/20 means January 2, 2020. Here, the order is month, day, year.
  • In date formats of some other regions, 01/02/20 means 20 February, 2001. Here, the order is year, month, day.

Hence, expressing dates in the numerical format may be confusing for a global audience. To avoid confusion, generally express dates in words.

Examples

Warning: Not recommended: 01/02/20 or 01/02/2020


Warning: Not recommended: 01.02.20 or 01.02.2020


Warning: Not recommended: 01-02-20 or 01-02-2020


Tip: Recommended: January 2, 2020


Tip: Recommended: Thursday, January 2, 2020

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Seasons and divisions of the year Seasons and divisions of the year

Avoid referring to seasons, as all regions around the world don’t have similar seasons and global audiences may find it difficult to correspond them to calendar months. For example, winter in the northern hemisphere is summer in the southern hemisphere. Instead of seasons, use months or calendar quarters.

Examples

Warning: Not recommended: During winter, you may encounter delays in responses due to staff holidays.


Tip: Recommended: During December, you may encounter delays in responses due to staff holidays.


Warning: Not Recommended: All major versions are released in the fall of each year.


Tip: Recommended: All major versions are released in October of each year.

If you must mention a specific season, identify either the hemisphere or region, or both. Don’t capitalize the season, except while designating the issue of a publication. For example, Fall 2021.

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