How to write a date

Back in elementary school, we learned to write dates by putting the month, then the day, then the year. That date form works just fine for things like letters, and although it was a little inconvenient, it works just fine for hand-sorting things like checks. But it is terrible for sorting things by date on a computer.

While many things can best be sorted by a title, many items that we store on our computer work best by date. For example, each time I buy something on the Internet, pay a bill, or receive a password, I make a pdf of the document and store them is a folder that I call Passwords and Receipts.
Back in elementary school, we learned to write dates by putting the month, then the day, then the year. That date form works just fine for things like letters, and although it was a little inconvenient, it works just fine for hand-sorting things like checks. But it is terrible for sorting things by date on a computer.

While many things can best be sorted by a title, many items that we store on our computer work best by date. For example, each time I buy something on the Internet, pay a bill, or receive a password, I make a pdf of the document and store them is a folder that I call Passwords and Receipts.

Just how to construct a meaningful file name can be a problem. My earliest files included the name of the program or site or item, but did I store my license number for Photoshop as Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop? Each time I get a new version of a program like Photoshop, it becomes more difficult to find the latest information quickly and easily.

It really makes more sense to store such items by date, but using the date format I leaned back in elementary school puts all the Januarys together, but as soon as I add Feburary, things begin getting out of order!

So, it makes much more sense to begin date entries with the year, followed by the month, followed by the date.

When I first began using this format, I would write todays date as 20071227, which looks all right, but January first might look like this 200811. That clearly does not show the date, so I needed to insert leading zeros. While 20080101 expresses the date, it is difficult to read.

Some people insert slashes so that the date looks like 2008/02/01, but slashes can cause problems because the slash is used to designate folders in computer directories, so they are best avoided.

Some people insert periods so that the date looks like 2008.01.01. This is visually pleasing, but it can cause a problem because computers use the . to designate file types.

The best way I have found to up the date is to use dashes, so the date looks like 2008-01-01. It is easy to read and it sorts properly on a computer.

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