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Date and time

Absolute vs. relative

Consider the context when choosing between absolute and relative data and time.

TypeExampleNotes
Absolute13 Aug 2019 at 10:00 amWhen is an entry scheduled to be published?
The use of relative time is not appropriate because it is not specific.
Relative3 days agoWhen was my collaborator last active?
The use of absolute date and time is unnecessarily specific. Provide the absolute date and time on user interaction, e.g. when the user hovers over relative time with their cursor.

Formats

TypeExampleNotes
Relative date and timeNever
Less than an hour ago
13 days ago
3 months ago
a year ago
Absolute time8:00 amTime should be displayed in a 12-hour format. Use lowercase am or pm without periods.
Absolute dates13 Jan 2019Dates should be displayed in order of day-month-year, with month abbreviated and without punctuation, to increase scannability and to strike a compromise between different localized date formats.
Absolute date and time8 Aug 2019 at 8:00 amAbsolute date and time should be displayed without commas and as human-readable as possible.
WeekdayMon, 12 Aug
Wed, 14 Aug at 11:00 pm
Weekdays should be used when it's helpful for users to see weekdays. Display them next to absolute date and time, separated with a comma.

Ranges

To show a date or time range, use an en dash (Unicode: U+2013, html: –) with spaces around it.

TypeExamplesNotes
Time8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Date30 Mar – 30 Apr
8 Jul – 13 Aug 2019
13 Dec 2018 – 8 Aug 2019
Omit the year on the left side if the range is in the same year. Omit it completely if the year can be understood from the context.

Don't use

TypeExampleNotes
Relative dayLast Tuesday
Today
Not expressed as relative to now.
Absolute date10/4/2019
10.4.2019
It's not clear which number is the day, and which is the month.
Absolute time or date08:00
02 Jan 2019
Don't use the leading zero in single-digit hours or days.
Absolute date4th Jan 2019Don't add ordinal number suffixes such as -st, -nd, -rd or -th.