sometimes communication or design calls for some additional attention to the format or expression of dates and times. some formats, styles, or usages are fine for a particular use; however might call for remedial support if used for another purpose. the year 2000 necessitated a review of data programming practices to ensure that applications that were initially written for year data to two numeric places would work properly in the context of a new century. many large organizations made a commitment to prepare operations to be Y2K-ready for the arrival of the year 2000. because of the widespread use of calendar and clock data throughout society, and due to varying complexities of different formats for representing dates and times; responsibility for Y2K readiness was not necessarily directed by a centralized authority. rather, many organizations placed responsibility for Y2K readiness with each subunit.
as a result of the transition to a new century, years that were formatted to two places in certain processes were re-formatted to four places to avoid the misrepresentation of '00' as '1900' instead of '2000'. several years after 2000, it is still a good idea to design formats for calendar year to 4 places. the use of 4 places for a calendar year makes the unit of content more clear to a general reader or user as a unit that represents a calendar year.
as the particular units of a calendar date might be expressed differently in different locales, effective communication for larger audiences calls for certain considerations. if you haven't yet reviewed your documentation processes for interchange readiness, a good way to start is to avoid dangling short-form two-place expressions of calendar dates; such as '03/05/07', that aren't as clear for a general audience as long form expressions. long-form expressions such as '03 May 2007', 'May 03, 2007, or '2007 May 03' will be clearer and thus more accessible to readers regardless of how they are accustomed to formatting calendar dates. your readers who are spending more time searching through long documents or through large groups of documents will appreciate the use of formats that communicate calendar dates effectively and accessibly.
effective communication for your readers and your business is worthwhile. some strategies for effective communication and design can be used and re-used, and might cost less than other remedial measures. with some planning, you can write and design calendar dates for both interchange and for communication.
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Ronald L Stone
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