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Should You Use Words or Numbers for Dates?

Is it "the 27th of December" or "the twenty-seventh of December"?

By
Mignon Fogarty,

calendar datesPeggy N. asked, “It's the 21st. You have plenty of time. Do I write it that way, or should it be It's the twenty-first?

I like it better written out, but want to be correct.”

Whether you use arabic figures (21st) or words (twenty-first) is a matter of style, so if Peggy is writing it for herself, she can write it out in words if that’s what she likes.

Liking it written out makes her a Chicago Manual of Style type of girl because that’s what Chicago recommends. (1)

The Associated Press’ AP Stylebook, on the other hand, recommends using the arabic figures. (2, 3) Here’s a recent example from a New York Times article: “We’re hoping we’re going to be busy on the 24th, too.”

References

1. “Month and day.” The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Section 9.32. 2010. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch09/ch09_sec032.html (accessed December 28, 2012).
2. “dates.” AP Stylebook Online. 2012 http://www.apstylebook.com/online/?do=entry&id=789&src=AE (accessed December 28, 2012).
3. “months.” AP Stylebook Online. 2012 http://www.apstylebook.com/online/?do=entry&id=1939&src=AE (accessed December 28, 2012).

Calendar image, The Cleveland Kid at Flickr, CC BY 2.0

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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