SOP Friday: Date Formats
I had a very rare frustrating experience with dates the other day. On a written form, someone had written the date 11/10. That's it. 11/10. It was either November 10th or October 11th. But what year? Not even a two digit year? Although in this case, 11/10/11 or 10/11/10 might have just added confusion to things.
SOP Friday: Date Formats
- Overview -
There are generally two times when you write out dates. One is when communicating with people, like this:
June 1, 2011 (abbreviated 6/1/11)
or 1 June, 2001 (abbreviated 1/6/11)
The other occasion when you write out dates is when you are taking notes, creating file names, saving configuration files, and working with computers. In these situations, you need a format that is completely consistent so everyone on the team understands the format, knows what to look for, and can find things quickly.
Because you might have directories with a large number of files, a date format that is self-sorting. Here's our policy:
- All time and Date stamps used in file names, saving configuration files, etc. will be in the form:
YYYYMMDD e.g. 20111213
- If just the month is used it would be 200612
- If you have multiple files on a day (for example, iterations of a configuration file), you might add two digits, such as:
- Do not abbreviate the year as in 111213 or 11.12.13
- Implementation Notes -
For old-timers in the crowd, you probably used this same system with DNS files back in the days when we hand-crafted them. With DNS files, you could use any numbering scheme you wanted. The system would simply implement the highest-numbered file sequence. So you could get away with
This ran into problems when some program changed the file and implemented their own numbering scheme.
If you use the scheme outlined above, then the newest file will always have the highest number:
Note that you can make up to 99 changes per day to this file before you have an issue with the numbering scheme.
This is also handy for file version numbers, such as
- Benefits -
This seems (and is) rather anal retentive. But it is very useful in avoiding confusion. I have been absolutely amazed at how many ways people have managed to write dates in their tech notes and with file names. When you have lots of files, and many versions, having a standard format can make it a lot easier and faster to find things.
Here are the date formats we don't use:
- Forms -
There are no specific forms for implementing this SOP. You might write up a brief description of the procedure and put it into your SOP or binder.
This kind of policy requires that everyone on the team
1) Be aware of the policy
2) Practice the policy
3) Correct one another's errors
4) Support one another with reminders
Your Comments Welcome.
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