Date format

Subject: Date format
From: "Chris Knight" <cknight -at- attcanada -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 19:01:55 -0700

The original post was (clipped):
>> From: Gilda_Spitz -at- markham -dot- longview -dot- ca
>> Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 11:56:57 -0400
>> When we provide instructions for date format, we want to say something
like
>> "mm/dd/yyyy". (Yes, I know this is American format; British and Canadian
>> format would be "dd/mm/yyyy".)
>>
>> Would you use upper or lower case?
>>
>> Gilda Spitz
>> Manager of Documentation
>> Longview Solutions Inc.

Then we had the date format summary:
>> From: Gilda_Spitz -at- markham -dot- longview -dot- ca
>> Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 14:24:51 -0400
>> The unanimous choice of tech writers who responded to my question was :
>> mm/dd/yyyy in lower case.


There's more to this topic.
.
The original question concerned "when we provide instructions for date
format".
If this concerns the reader entering data into a field, then what the field
is called
(on the screen) could be a factor. I certainly wouldn't use upper-case if
the field
label was literally "mm/dd/yyyy".

Beyond that, if what you are doing is providing a syntactical representation
of
acceptable user input, one of course must work with what the system
engineers
have built. In the US, that is likely to be "mm/dd/yyyy". Lower-case is
preferable
(because more general).

However, in some cases (usually when writing about how a result will be
presented),
case (and the number of characters used in a field) ARE significant. In such
situations,
you may be explaining that "MM/dd/yyyy" produces "MA" for March, instead of
"03".

Furthermore, for writers in the Telecom industry, and probably others, the
delimiter
is a dash, not a slash. I don't have the exact standard to hand; I'm fairly
sure that it
is CCITT. In small print, or in low resolutions (e.g. onscreen) , a slash
can be
confused with the number "1". Dashes are much clearer.

If one was concerned about non-US audiences, the rest of the planet finds
the
top-down order of "yyyy-mm-dd" more familiar (and logical). But, that may
not
be what the boffins built.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.


Christopher Knight, Technical Communicator
E-mail: cknight -at- attcanada -dot- ca
Phone: (604) 877-0074





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