Dates should be formatted as “day, month, year” if the audience is international, or “month, day, year” if you’ll only have U.S. readers.
- Don’t include “st,” “nd,” “rd” or “th.” Simply put, it’s “July 1,” not “July 1st.” (Pro tip: numbers written like “1st” are called ordinal numbers. They’re generally a no-no.)
- You don’t need a comma when writing just a month and year (July 2020). If you include a day, be sure to set off the year with a comma (July 1, 2020). Don’t include commas for our international date format (1 July 2020).
- Abbreviate January, February, August, September, October, November and December when writing a specific date (Nov. 1, 2020). When you aren’t indicating a specific date, write out the full month (November 2020).
- If you’re really pressed for space, you can abbreviate days of the week and months to three letters. End abbreviations with a period, except for when you’re writing within the product.
- Always use numerals for years; never spell them out.
- When expressing decades or centuries, add the letter “s” without an apostrophe. Only use an apostrophe before figures for decades when numerals are left out (e.g., the ‘90s).
Dates can vary for international audiences — see more about internationalization.
Most of the AP Style rules still apply here, but with less space, it’s more likely you’ll have to abbreviate days and months.
- Use three-letter abbreviations with no periods (every pixel counts!).
- Even if space is tight, never shorten the year. It could get confused with the actual day.
- Even though numbers-only formats for dates are shorter, avoid them. There could be confusion when localization rearranges the order. Plus, placeholder zeroes get tricky.
To be as clear as possible about the time you mean, follow these rules:
- Use lowercase letters and periods to differentiate between a.m. and p.m. times.
- Don’t include colons for times on the hour.
- Avoid “yesterday” or “tomorrow.” Use the specific day of the week instead.
Time formatting can change for international audiences — check out our internationalization guidelines.
Only include the time zone when the time pertains to a specific location or event that might not be local. Don’t include S(tandard) or D(aylight) in the time zone — it’s easy to get the two confused over the course of a year, so better to leave it out.
For the sake of space when expressing time, drop the periods in a.m. and p.m and eliminate the space after the last digit, but make sure you still always include am or pm. Also, don’t use a 24-hour format — this will help distinguish the time of day from something like the duration of a video.
For items that have a longer life span within the product, like feed cards and exchanges, it’s important to clearly communicate when something was created or shared. Each timestamp should be exact — don’t include “about” before them.
- New within the hour, use “ago”: 13 minutes ago.
- Shared or created that day: 2:16pm.
- Shared or created yesterday: Yesterday at 2:16pm.
- New within the last week: Wednesday at 2:16pm.
- At least one week old, but less than a month: Mar 6, 2:16pm.
- At least one month old, but less than a year: Mar 6.
- One year or older: Mar 6, 2020.
We’re a video and data company, so we need to express the time duration of videos and clips often. Here are the guidelines for how we approach this:
- Always include the digits for minutes and seconds. Hour digits are not required until the video or user activity hits the hour mark.
- Include a zero as the minute digit for durations less than sixty seconds.
- Durations under 10 minutes can be displayed as a single minute digit.
- Milliseconds aren’t required and shouldn’t be used in any static displays of time. If you’re using milliseconds for elapsed time as the video plays, use a period instead of a colon.
- Never use “h,” “m” or “s” for hours, minutes and seconds. Stick to the colon format.
Write out numbers one through nine, and use numerals for 10 or higher. (You can use numerals for numbers under 10 when writing addresses, ages, monetary values, dates, times, sizes/dimensions, percentages, speeds or temperatures.)
Here’s a few more general rules to keep in mind:
- When using age as an adjective phrase before a noun, use hyphens. Drop them if the noun comes first.
- My 34-year-old friend remains impressively athletic.
- My friend is 34 years old.
- “Thousands,” “millions” and “billions” may be shortened to “K,” “M” and “B” when displayed in a graphic treatment.
- For percentages, use the % sign, no space, paired with a numeral.
- Avoid starting sentences with a number, unless referencing a year.
- Finally, when talking quantities, it’s always “more than,” not “over.”
For clarity and accuracy, decimals are always written as numerals, even if the number less than nine. In basketball, “3-pointer” is also written as a numeral since it’s a statistic.
When two numbers come next to each other in a sentence, spell out one of these numbers. The main purpose of this rule is to avoid confusion for the reader. This could require you to write out a number larger than nine.
Always use numerals when writing a score, even if the number is from one to nine. This is most common in sports with low scores like soccer, baseball, softball, etc.
Similar to writing a score, rankings with the AP abbreviation for number (No.) will use a numeral, even when below 10.
However, if you’re writing just the ranking and it’s less than 10, you’ll write the complete word. For rankings 10 and above, use numerals.
Use numerals for yard lines, even those below 10.
Don’t use numerals for downs — these follow the “less than 10” rule mentioned above. For down and distance, use dashes.
Use numerals for the data, but spell out “feet,” “inches,” “meters,” “centimeters,” etc. Obviously only use when applicable and necessary, for instance when sharing a player’s vitals. Refer to our accessibility section for more guidance.
Write out all generic parts of street names (avenue, north, road) when you’re not talking about a specific address. Otherwise, include a street number, and abbreviate avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.), street (St.) and directional parts of street names.
Also, heads up! State abbreviations differ from postal service abbreviations.
- Nebraska is shortened to “Neb.” instead of “NE.”
Here’s an exception to AP Style. When referring to specific addresses in UI copy, use postal abbreviations to save space.