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In America the date format is mm/dd/yyyy but in Europe its written dd/mm/yyyy, what is the reasoning behind the American format, surely the most used piece of info in that string is dd so why put forward the month first ?

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related: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/39905/… –  Dvir Adler Dec 22 '13 at 7:50

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It seems it is just convention, as you can also see at this discussion. The American format follows the phrase "November fifth", while the European one follows "the fifth of November".

When designing an interface you might find useful having fields with the name of the month, like 05 - Nov - 2013 or Nov - 05 -2013 instead of using numbers and guidelines/explanations of the format you are using.

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Yes. Just don't do what WordPress does -- when dating posts, it displays dates in the American order, but with the month number and the name. So July 4 is 07-Jul 4 This often confuses me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. –  Bennett McElwee Jul 21 '13 at 23:44
    
@BennettMcElwee: You'd have to dig into the format strings explanation, but you can get WordPress to display dates any way you like. Somewhere in the settings pages for the site admin. –  Marjan Venema Jul 22 '13 at 7:25
    
@Marjan, the problem occurs when you are entering dates, not displaying them; as far as I know, this is not configurable (except possibly for the language used for the month names). –  Bennett McElwee Jul 22 '13 at 8:49
    
@BennettMcElwee: Ah, I never do that... :-) –  Marjan Venema Jul 22 '13 at 17:51

While your question is valid, your underlying assumptions are not.

surely the most used piece of info in that string is dd

Really? The question of what part of the date a user might be interested in, is really not all that easy to answer. It really depends on the application. Sometimes the day might be most relevant, but for other purposes the month, year or even century might be what the user is looking for.

Iso format

If you're looking for a really rational way to format dates, you should look at the ISO format yyyy mm dd (the spacing is optional, really). In this format, you put the most significant (as in: largest contribution to the total value) piece of information first, just like you do with every other number. Benefits include that this format sorts naturally in chronological order.

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Obligatory relevant XKCD –  Kit Grose Jul 23 '13 at 0:41

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