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I’m trying to show a so-called human-readable time format, but not sure about the best way to display short versions of minutes vs months.

You have:

  • 1 second ago → 1s
  • 1 minute ago → 1m
  • 1 day ago → 1d
  • 1 week ago → 1w
  • 1 month ago → ???
  • 1 year ago → 1y

Also, probably it’s only me, but I think I rarely see weeks, e.g. is it preferable to show 7d vs 1w?

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1 second ago → 1s

1 minute ago → 1m

1 day ago → 1d

1 week ago → 1w

1 month ago → ???

1 year ago → 1y

I don't think 1M (as seen in programming) / 1mi / 1mo or any case would be preferable. What exactly is a month ago? Is it 28 days? 30? 31? When did I read this timestamp? Will quick readers misinterpret "1 year and 2 months ago"? (is there even a possibility to quick read?)

What is the exact purpose you want to use this for? Does "Last month" or "Posted on 20 Nov" / "Posted on 20 Nov 2017" not suffice? A general, short, human readable timestamp such as 15:19:03 04/01/2018 is less prone to confusing users to when exactly something was posted, uploaded or anything.

How relevant is time specifics to you? Do users have to know the exact time when a something was done? Do you want your users to calculate, or do you want to have a feel around the time, as seen as here; "asked 2 days ago"?

In any case, the most common, modern approach I have seen on social media and such is that they show "24h ago", "1d ago", until a certain point (I believe 3 days), and after that, they show the date. There's still some confusion in "2 days ago" as it doesn't show the hours, but at least it's less confusing when you see a post after that time.

3

Since there are two shortened time formats with the same letter, the only way to make it unambiguous would be to add a second letter (e.g. mi and mo) or add a third letter (e.g. min and mth).

Also, the position of the time formats with respect to the others will also influence how it is interpreted, so if you have 1h 1m 1s it is unlikely to be seen as month.

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As you suggested, it is possible to convert 1 week into 7d, vice versa. You can apply this to other time periods too. So 1 month = 30d. This enables you to be more precise about the time period, as 1 month can be 30, 31 and 28 days.

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If you would like to keep the suffix to a single letter, you could use ‘M’ to denote months, and ‘m’ to denote minutes.

Otherwise, a clearer suffix would be ‘mo’ and ‘mi’ as Michael suggested.

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Common abbreviations of time references:

1 millisecond ago → 1 ms

1 second ago → 1 sec. or sec or s

1 minute ago → 1 min. or min

1 hour ago → 1 hr. or h

1 day ago → 1 day or d

1 week ago → 1 wk.

1 month ago → 1 mo.

1 year ago → 1 yr.

References:

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