I am trying to find the best way to naturally display, in a list mode, the date difference between a "supposed start date" vs today date in natural language.

The output would be displayed only if the project is late.

I have a project with a delay that is:

  • less than 13 days, the result should be expressed in days (possible display: 9 days late)
  • between 14 days and 28 days, the result should be expressed in weeks (possible display: 2 weeks late)
  • between 28 days and 365 days, the result should be expressed in months (possible display: 3 months late)
  • more than 365 days, the result should be expressed in years by steps (possible display: more than a year late)

Is this the best way to display information?

Is it ok to give a macro picture instead of a detailed view right away? For example, displaying 2 weeks late instead of 2 weeks and 2 days.

Thanks for your help

1 Answer 1


Without knowing the full context of your question, I would start off with the lowest common denominator and expand out from there to a maximum of two levels. What I mean could be expressed by the following rules or formulas:

  • w days late (where w = 1 to 6)
  • x weeks, w days late (where x = 1 to 3, w = 1 to 6)
  • y months, x weeks late (where y = 1 to 11, x = 1 to 3)
  • z years, y months late (where z = 1 or above, y = 1 to 11)

So, using the above formulas, the following examples follow:

  • 3 days late; 6 days late
  • 1 week late; 1 week, 4 days late; 2 weeks, 1 day late
  • 1 month late; 1 month, 2 weeks late; 2 months, 1 week late
  • 1 year late; 1 year, 2 months late

In other words, you're only expressing at most two sets of values. That is, you wouldn't express something like 1 year, 2 months, 3 weeks and 4 days late.

Hope this provides some food for thought.

  • It does thank you. I will definitely combine two levels. After the questions is more about the UX/UI of it. I need to display that sentence into a list mode. Such long sentence (even more when you translate into german) can be a problem for small devices. I will share some design in this conversation.
    – Didier
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 0:14
  • 1
    Hmmm, if spacing is an issue then I guess you'd have to test the longest likely scenario (i.e. 11 months, 3 weeks late) and see how that fits. Other options would be to use some sort of abbreviation (e.g. 11mths 3wks or 11m 3w) or to use decimals such as 11.75 months. Of course you could just stick with nothing but the lowest common denominator and represent all entries using 'days'. That is, use days regardless of whether the project is 1 day late or 456 days late!
    – Monomeeth
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 0:25

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