- 2015.09.26 Frans Janssens
: Spelling of Dates logically

A great many people have problems with the spelling of dates. Certainly since the dawn of the 'Computer Era' it has become more and more difficult to establish uniformity and in the long run everybody will be at a loss what to do about writing a date. There is no logic in it at all. Additional programmes have become necessary to make the different systems of different countries compatible.


Artists and antique collectors are at their wits' end because in some cases objects have not been dated and in others abbrevia-tions have been used, so that extra research is needed to remove all possible doubt. A person possessing an object of the year '72 will have great difficulty in proving that the full date is 1872 or 1972. And what about our grandchildren in the year 2073 ?


A lot of papers that have to be filled in have a pre-printed date, e.g. ......... 19.. . As a consequence, because of idleness, people have started to leave out the figures indicating the century or have replaced them by an apostrophe in other papers as well. Thus, from childhood on, we have been taught not to use the number indicating the century and that is how problems have started. It will not be simple to get out of this generally adopted bad custom. In a few years time, at the turn of the century, problems will become even bigger.


Leaving out the number for the century is never permitted. The apostrophe may only be used for repetitions, but without the obligation to leave out the century.

          e.g.             the Great War 1914 -'18, the period 1935-1939,   the schoolyear 1993-'94.


In letterheadings or titles it is very rude to represent the month by a number. One always writes 26th August 1984, or even better : Community, 26th August 1984.

The use of 'date as postmark' or 'posting date' is ridiculous and invalidates a document and turns it into something worthless.


If the date is used as a number for identification,

stock-taking or classification, one forms a logical and

calculable number : 'century year month day'. This makes classi­fication, sorting and looking up a lot easier and the date can be used as an identification-number as well.


This application finds more and more acceptance, especially if one wants to code files by computer or if one wants to let the computer classify or sort data according to date. Adding and subtracting of the date is also possible to define and compare time intervals.


Internationally one now uses in trade and administrative documents and procedures :      1937.12.30    and   1994.03.09

or in numbers :             19371230    and         19940309 .


With an additional number or with hours, minutes and seconds one gets, according to the standard of the Belgian Institute of Standardization : 1994.03.09 11:16:33 or 19940309111633.


While sorting the computer doesn't distinguish between

hyp­hens, decimal points or colons, but alternating and with spaces and commas things start going wrong. There are no sorting problems with 1994.03.09 11:16:33, considered as two words.


I hope it is now clear that it is important, when dating and stock-taking all sorts of data and documents, to write the date completely and logically henceforth.



BE - Antwerpen, 1993.01.23 19:12                 ir V.F.Naveau.

from : ENTOMO-INFO, jear 3. 1992, nr 2. P.35