The "ISO 8601" date format is praised for its unambiguity, but it's predominantly a digital format, not too common in traditional media. Do you allow YYYY-MM-DD in print projects, or do you always opt for other formats in that context?

Plus, with the digits tightly together only separated by hyphens, it may not look exactly appealing.

So have you ever used YYYY-MM-DD in a not-so-technical context, where esthetics also mattered? If so, how would you mark the date up to make it 'look better'? En-/Em-dashes, whitespace around the digits? Different opacities for the separator? Something else?

  • I think location and audience matter here. If aesthetics is a concern, I always opt for DD, Month YYYY for human readability (in the US. Non-US - Month DD, YYYY) using a single comma and no dashes - but that's highly subjective.
    – Scott
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:13
  • Hi. Welcome to GDSE. I believe they use that date format in Japan. I've never seen it used in British publications. We generally use date/month/year. I suspect nearly every country will have their own preferred format. However for other uses, such as naming folders/files on a computer for searches or sorting in date order.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:18
  • @Scott over here we prefer dd.mm.yyyy
    – joojaa
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:19
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    It'd help if I type correctly... I mean the the US it's most often Month DD, YYYY -- I essentially transposed what I was thinking when I wrote that comment above.
    – Scott
    Mar 9, 2022 at 19:51
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    As far as I know, the only place that uses ISO 8601 as an official standard (including in printed matter) is Sweden – and even there it’s not the usual format for writing out a date in normal, running text. It works for tables and such things, but it’s not really used anywhere in sentence contexts. @Wolff The comma between date and month was part of the transposition – a comma is used between date and year in the US (Month DD, YYYY), and (optionally) between month and year elsewhere in English (DD Month, YYYY), but not between date and month anywhere. Mar 9, 2022 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


This depends alot on the country and document purpose.

In some countries, YYYY-MM-DD is actually the default way or typing dates on legal documents, so every invoice, contract, bank letter, everything comes with YYYY-MM-DD dates.

In some cases the date is technically required to be in this format YYYY-MM-DD, because there are automatic scanners that pull info from paper and recognize this date format (eg. you can scan bills with your banking app and all the data is pulled via the phone camera into the banking app in a specific format, so people don't have to type all the numbers by hand when paying bills, just an example).

However, this usually applies to legal-type documents and not for normal, running text.

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