What's the best way for a user to indicate their preferred way to see numbers and dates.

I could:

  1. Ask the user to enter a country - but that seems like a confusing question to ask someone as they first start using a system. It's also not such a simple question since a person may be working in a foreign country but might want to see numbers and dates the way they're accustomed to in their home country.
  2. Show a dropdown of number/date format options
  3. Something else

Anyone have any suggestions on the least confusing way I can get this information for a user when they first sign-up on my system?

By the way, I'm aware of Accept-Language, but I understand that it's not reliable.

  • Question indicates of not targeting specific users as well as domains(Accounting, Entertainment etc) So I suggest to take a format from user at first and apply later
    – Jivan
    Nov 16, 2016 at 7:30

3 Answers 3


Auto choosing by country would seem a little too locked down to me - it wouldn't take into account somebody working overseas, for example, or somebody who simply has a preference fro an alternate date format.

Microsoft Excel allows you to choose a date format to use when updating the layout of a cell or group of cells to date - they provide a model of a particular date in each of the formats available and allow you to choose. A dropdown using these suggested formats, or a subset of them, would be simple, but visually very effective.

enter image description here


Let the user choose each item as they please.

Eg "Choose your date format preference" (with all applicable options you are providing.

If you can determine a logical default that's fine but don't presume because I'm a user in country X that I want date format Y.

Eg for me personally I prefer dates in the YYYY-MM-DD format though my country's typical format is DD/MM/YYYY. I prefer 24h time over 12h.

In fact some countries are specifically mixed. In Canada we are officially metric... but we use US 8.5"X11" Letter paper not A4... I get my weather in Celsius but (most) tend to measure heights in imperial (I'm 6'0"... not 183cm?) I want the US keyboard layout, not the Canadian one, but I do want the Canadian/UK spelling/dictionary (not the US one)


Pick up the format from the system being used.

Windows as part of setup asks the user to choose various formats, among them date-time. I'm fairly sure Macs do as well (it's been a long time). The various interface options for Unix also do (I use xfce under FreeBSD).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.