Here’s the next in my series of bite-size Quick Tips. Click on the Quick Tips tag for my other Quick Tips. Because I tend to write longer posts, I wanted to provide a quick-to-read (and quick-to-write) high-impact post every couple of weeks. This one has become second nature to me, even when I’m not doing genealogy!
Use standard genealogy formatting when writing dates
If you’ve been doing genealogy awhile, you’re probably already doing this, but for newer genealogists, I suggest using a standard date format for your genealogy dates to avoid confusion. Here’s my understanding of the accepted format:
Day of the month expressed in one or two digits, followed by the three-letter abbreviation for the month and then the year, expressed in four digits. (DD MMM YYYY). Note the absence of a comma or slashes.
So my mother’s birthday, which she probably wrote most often as May 2, 1933, is expressed 2 May 1933 in my genealogy software.
Using a standardized format eliminates some of the guess work for people who look at your data. Most U.S. folks are accustomed to writing dates like this: MM-DD-YY (7-10-20). But people in many other countries tend to put the day of the month first, as in DD-MM-YY (10-07-20). Using letters for the month eliminates confusion. And it’s essential to use all four years of the date because we genealogists are working in multiple centuries.
This is an easy habit to get into with repetition. And it’s well worth it, in my opinion!