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I am from Europe. I am confused about dates in USA. I have seen different ways to show the date in USA:

I have a blog. The main audience of my English version of the blog is in USA, but I do not want to alienate the rest of the English speakers. How should I show the date of the post? I mean, how would someone from the street easy understand the date?

Schema and Google make it clear how to give them the date, I have no doubts about that. My question is how to show the date to the user. For instance:

<div itemprop="datePublished" content="2016-08-15">Thu, 15 August 2017</div>

or

<div itemprop="datePublished" content="2016-08-15">August 15, 2017</div>
  • "I'm confused about X in the USA" is something I hear all the time. – Stephen Ostermiller May 3 '17 at 14:33
  • Are you suggesting there is just one way to show the date to the user in Europe? I am from Europe and all three of those versions look acceptable and unambiguous to me - I can't imagine anyone from the US being confused by any of those formats?? The only one to avoid would be DD/MM/YYYY, which is likely to be seen as MM/DD/YYYY in the US I assume. – MrWhite May 3 '17 at 15:02
  • August 15, 2017. It looks strange and confusing in my country and I think in most Europe. But that is what I am most used to see in USA. Is Thu, 15 August 2017 ok for Americans? – Nrc May 3 '17 at 15:28
  • Note that div can’t have a content attribute in HTML+Microdata. You’ll probably want to use the time element with its datetime attribute. – unor May 3 '17 at 16:25
  • I did not know that div cannot have content microdata. Can you address me where I can find more information about that? – Nrc May 3 '17 at 16:46
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In the US date formats, the month comes first, followed by the day followed by the year. Any of these would be most easily understood by US visitors:

  • August 15, 2017
  • Aug 15, 2017
  • 8/15/2017

Putting the day first will sound a bit awkward to those in the US, but as long as you spell out the month name, those of us in the US would be able to understand:

  • 15 August 2017
  • 15 Aug 2017

As a programmer, I love the YYYY-MM-DD format. It makes the dates easy to sort. Even alphabetical order sorts them correctly. Almost nobody uses YYYY-DD-MM, so there isn't confusion about which field is the month and which is the day. However, that date format is almost never used in the US on something that is meant to be human readable.

Since websites are used by visitors from around the world that use different date conventions, it is sometimes best not to show dates at all. In some cases you might be able to replace dates with durations. Say "one year ago" rather than "May 1, 2016". That is what this site (StackExchange) does to show when items were posted. The technique may be less applicable when the date is an upcoming event for which the user needs to know the exact date and time when it will happen.

It is also possible to format dates for users in a locale aware manner. It could be possible to do so server side. The users location could be detected using either geo-ip address lookups, or the accept-language HTTP header. Most programming languages have libraries available for printing dates for various locales. It could also be done client side in JavaScript: Display date/time in user's locale format and time offset

  • The option Thu, 15 August 2017, seems strange to an American person? – Nrc May 4 '17 at 13:54
  • Yes. We always say the month first, before the day. – Stephen Ostermiller May 4 '17 at 13:55
  • The only exception to that would be a phrase like "The 15th of August". But without the ordinal and "of" it would be weird to us. – Stephen Ostermiller May 4 '17 at 13:58
  • Sorry to insist. I need the day of the week, too. Is that correct? Thursday, August 15, 2017. Only one comma, two? – Nrc May 5 '17 at 10:04
  • Yes, correct. With two commas. – Stephen Ostermiller May 5 '17 at 11:42

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