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ISO Date Format
By Richard Rost   Richard Rost on Twitter Richard Rost on LinkedIn Email Richard Rost   4 months ago

Switch Date Format to Avoid Confusion YYYY-MM-DD


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In today's video, I'm going to show you how to switch your Windows PC to the ISO 8601 standard date format. This will help you avoid confusion when communicating with people in other countries, and prevent international incidents!

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If you communicate with people in other countries, whether for business or pleasure, you need a date standard that's the same for everyone. When you have dates displayed like 4/2/2022, that could mean April 2nd or February 4th, depending on where you're located.

This can be embarrassing on a personal level. "My flight will be landing at noon on 2/3/22." This can be costly on a business level! "To avoid a late fee, your invoice is due on 4/5/22."

I personally have students in almost every country of the world. When people ask me questions, and I reply, it can be very confusing for both of us. The ISO 8601 standard date format is unambiguous. Regardless of where you are, the date 2022-10-03 is always October 3rd, 2022.

Date and time values are ordered from largest to smallest unit of time: year, month, day, hour, minute, second. Each date value has a fixed number of digits, padded with leading zeros. YYYY-MM-DD

Dates may also be written without separators. This was more common with older computers storing date values in text files. YYYYMMDD

In addition to being a logical and unambiguous date format, ISO dates are naturally sortable strings. No separate logic is required to sort them.

In Windows, open Region settings, click Change Data Formats, Select the ISO Short Date.

The ISO Time standard is (local time zone): HH:NN:SS.xx
The ISO Time with a Time Zone added: HH:NN:SS+00:00
The ISO Time in UTC: HH:NN:SSZ

The ISO Combined Date/Time Standards:
YYYY-MM-DD HH:NN:SS
YYYY-MM-DDTHH:NN:SS
YYYY-MM-DDTHH:NN:SS+00:00
YYYY-MM-DDTHH:NN:SSZ
YYYYMMDDTHHNNSSZ

I am going to change my time settings from a single-digit HOUR to a double-digit one though. That’s more in line with the ISO standard. You’ll see why when we talk about Access shortly.

EXCEL USERS:
When you make this change, dates you have formatted as just Date or Short Date will be switched to ISO Dates. Custom date formats you have in place will not be changed. 

Be careful typing in new date values now. If you just type in "1/2" then you'll still get 02-Jan. But if you type in "1/2/22" you'll get 2001-02-22.

ACCESS USERS:
Likewise any existing Short Date fields (which is the default) will be changed to the new ISO Date format. So unless you have any custom date formats, you'll be fine.

Typing in new date values a little bit different than Excel. The field on the form will always keep the same format, unlike Excel where the format may change based on what you type. Assuming Short Dates: Typing "1/2" will give you 2022-01-02. Typing "1/2/22" will give you 2001-02-22

Dates are still stored internally as a number, so you shouldn't have to worry. Any functions like DateAdd, DatePart, Year, Month, Format, etc. should all still work the same. The only time you may have a problem is if you’re importing data from spreadsheets or text files that are formatted differently. Be sure to double-check anything you import!

If you don't change the Windows Short Time setting that I mentioned earlier to show two-digit hours, then even if you use hh:nn to display times, Access will still use the Windows single-digit Short Time format.

Use an Input Mask to help your users get used to entering dates with the new format. https://599cd.com/InputMask

I'm just making the change myself today, so I'm sure I'll have a lot of tips, tricks, and pointers in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more! https://599cd.com/ISODates

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Keywords: windows 10 windows 11 iso 8601 advantages and disadvantages, global standard date and time format, international date standard, universal date format, short date, two digit hour  PermaLink  ISO Date Format in Microsoft Windows