How to Write a Date Correctly

The correct way to fully write out dates using commas, according to the American format, is to write the weekday separate from the month and date, which in turn will be separated from the year using a comma—for example, Friday, April 29, 1993.

This is one of the most popular and common formats for writing dates, but there are still some exceptions. To learn of these exceptions, read further down to learn the various ways of placing commas in dates.

Graphic detailing when to use commas in dates. For dates that include the month and year, the use of a comma is not necessary. For dates that include the month, date, and year, the use of a comma always takes place after a date.

Learning To Write The Date With Just The Year and Month

When writing dates that only include the month and the year, you don’t have to use commas. For example:

  • Correct:  I first started wearing glasses in July 1999.
  • Incorrect: I first started wearing glasses in July, 1999.

How To Use Commas When Dates Include The Month, Date, and Year

You should use commas after you write the date, but not after the month. The comma date rule applies when including all three things in the date. For example:

  • Correct: I realized I first started wearing glasses on August 10, 1999.
  • Incorrect: I realized I first started wearing glasses on August 10 1999.
  • Incorrect: I realized I first started wearing glasses on August, 10, 1999.

Where To Put Commas When Dates Include The Weekday, Date, And Year?

When the date includes the weekday, as seen at the top of the article, a comma must come between the weekday and the month.  You must also add a comma before the year.

  • Correct: I stopped wearing glasses on Monday, March 4, 2002.
  • Incorrect: I stopped wearing glasses on Monday March 4, 2002.

Starting A Sentence With A Date

What about using dates and commas at the beginning of a sentence?  You can apply the same rules here, but must also include a comma after writing the year. For example:

  • Correct:  July 15, 2004, marks my 5th year of wearing glasses.
  • Incorrect: July 15, 2004 marks my 5th year of wearing glasses.

Dates In The Middle Of A Sentence

When dates fall in the middle of a sentence, you have to consider the date format you’re using. When using the month-date-year format, you have to put a comma after the year. For the month and year or month and date format, the comma usage depends on the context.

  • Correct: My vacation in July 2019 was amazing.
  • Incorrect: My Vacation in July 2019, was amazing.
  • Correct: When my vacation ended on August  1, I went back home.
  • Incorrect: When my vacation ended on August 1 I went back home.

Learning How to Write a Date in Inverted Style

The inverted style is prevalent in most of the world outside the US. Simply put, inverted style is when the date comes first, followed by the month, and then the year. A different approach with commas applies when using the date-month-year format.

Countries like the United States and Canada use the month-day-year format, which usually causes confusion when expressing dates numerically. For example, 7/5/1990 simply means July 5, 1990 in the United States, but in Europe, it is viewed as May 7, 1990.

When writing in inverted style, commas are not need between the day, month and year at all. To an American, this will certainly look strange.

  • Correct: My grandmother died on 20 July 1996.
  • Incorrect: My grandmother died on 20 July, 1996.

Writing Inverted Dates and Weekdays

However,  inverted style dates use commas if the date includes a weekday. For example:

  • Correct: I met my fiancé on Wednesday, 4 September 1990.
  • Incorrect: I met my fiancé on Wednesday 4 September 1990.

Including Commas in Special Dates

Special days, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, have the same way of writing commas as other styles.

  • Correct: On February 14, 2019, people celebrate Valentine’s Day.
  • Incorrect: People go overboard on Valentine’s Day 14, 2019.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Using commas in specific date formats seems a bit confusing, but you will surely get the hang of it once you start practicing more often.  Just remember that when you use the weekday-month-date-year format, there are two commas separating the weekday and month, and the date and the year. This way you will get the hang of all the other different formats.

And if you want to have a chuckle at other people’s expense, here are some humorous punctuation mistakes from the world over.


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By Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday holds degrees in English education and creative writing. As an educator, Michael specializes in corporate training having worked with IBM, Philip Morris International, and the Danone food company in Paris. He is a published author and is deeply passionate about the written word.

2 comments on “How to Write a Date Correctly”

  • A comment on the “25 December 2020” format: many years ago I was uncertain on the best way to write dates. I tended to “25th December, 2020” or “December 25th , 2020”, I forget which, with superscript “th” (by rolling the typewriter roller down half a line). Then I read a book on writing English by C. E. (or J.M., or both) Eckersley probably from the 1930s or 1940s, which made a point that has stuck with me all my life: putting the month in words between the two numbers separated them neatly and did away with doubts on whether to use a comma or not – Eckersley didn’t use a comma. At the time this was not a usual way to write the dates, but it makes a lot of sense and has been widely adopted in recent decades.

    While it’s never going to happen, using lower-case Roman numerals for the month in the short form would avoid ambiguity, and work in all languages using the Gregorian calendar: “25/xii/2020″ or xii/25/2020”.

  • The “correct” example under special dates is actually incorrect. There should be a comma following the year (which follows the rules outlined in the article). As written, the sentence may read as though 2019 people celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

    Example Given: On February 14, 2019 people celebrate Valentine’s Day.

    Corrected Example: On February 14, 2019, people celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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