Style Quiz #1: Months, Days, and Years in Dates

By Mark Nichol

All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect style for styling dates according to The Chicago Manual of Style; revise the style of the number as necessary:

1. I’ll expect you on the 25th, then.

2. The study was concluded on 8/22/13.

3. Registration will close on March 31st, 2013.

4. On November 5, 2012, the store shut its doors for the last time.

5. The next occurrence was in February, 1978.

Solutions

In American English, month, day, and year should always be given with the month spelled out and the day and year, separated with a comma, expressed with numerals.

1.
Original: I’ll expect you on the 25th, then.
Correct : I’ll expect you on the twenty-fifth, then.

When a date is mentioned in isolation, spell it out as an ordinal.

2.
Original: The study was concluded on 8/22/13.
Correct : The study was concluded on August 22, 2012.

Few countries observe the US month/date/year system, so foreign readers may misunderstand the date, and the numerical style is inappropriate for formal content. (If an abbreviated style is necessary, as in a table, style dates, for example, “22 Aug 2013,” or use “8/22/13” if required but specify the system in a note.)

3.
Original: Registration will close on March 31st, 2013.
Correct : Registration will close on March 31, 2013.

Omit ordinals (st, nd, rd, and th) in dates.

4.
Original: On November 5, 2012, the store shut its doors for the last time.
Correct : On November 5, 2012, the store shut its doors for the last time.

This style for month, date, and year is formatted correctly.

5.
Original: The next occurrence was in February, 1978.
Correct : The next occurrence was in February 1978.

Do not insert a comma between the month and the year when no date is given.

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