Last week I taught The Keys to Error-Free Writing, a class that focuses on the current rules of business writing. Of the 62 items on the pretest, Question 6 (below) in the section on numbers was answered incorrectly more than any other question. What is your answer?
6. Choose the sentence that is rendered correctly:
- Please book my reservation for Saturday, June 5th.
- Please book my reservation for Saturday, June fifth.
- Please book my reservation for Saturday, June 5.
In a group of 16 people, 15 chose the wrong answer, or "Don't know" because they were not sure.
Which did you choose?
Number 3 includes the correct rendering of the date.
Here is the rule: When the day follows the month, use a cardinal number (1, 2, 3, etc.). When the day comes before the month or stands alone, use an ordinal number, either spelled out or in figures (1st, first, 2nd, second).
"The 5th of June" is correct, but June 5th is not.
If you need a few more examples, read "Rule: Fourth of July/July 4" on this blog. Or if you live in the Seattle area, attend the next session of The Keys to Error-Free Writing in Everett, Washington, on December 16.
Feeling smug because you chose the right answer? Good for you! And if you chose the wrong answer, I'm glad you read this post.
P.S. I will be traveling for a few days, so please forgive a slow response to your comments.