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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 Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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