Ordinal date display

whatcould's Avatar


09 Nov, 2008 04:38 PM

Hi there

Posting my personal pet peeve on the off chance that you care about such stylistic things. Y'all are ruby folks so I assume you're into this stuff?


In Lighthouse, timestamps on issues and on comments all use ordinal dates -- "November 7th, 2008 @ 11:37 AM", versus "November 7, 2008"

The -th (-nd) ending is extraneous, decreases readability, and is incorrect (American) English style. As any manual of style will explain (see excerpts below from Chicago Manual) that dates should be expressed in cardinal numbers.

I love lighthouse, but every time i see the dates... it's like somebody snuck a bit of ASP into my Rails code. Well, maybe not that bad :)


9.35 The day of the month

When specific dates are expressed, cardinal numbers are used, although these may be pronounced as ordinals. For the month-day-year date form versus the day-month-year form, see 6.46.

  • April 5, 2001, was just a working day for the crew.
  • The Seafarer’s Clarion (5 April 2001) praised the crew’s heroism.

When a day is mentioned without the month or year, the number, an ordinal, is usually spelled out.


From the Chicago Manual Q+A:

Q. A quandary: I’m seeing September 11th (added “th”) in the New Yorker magazine, where editing is usually superb, but somewhat antiquated. The New York Times refers to the date as Sept. 11 or 9/11. Please give me a rundown of your recommendations for this particular date, including use as an adjective (September 11 tragedy?). Or is it still too soon to have a set standard? Thanks. I’m probably the 911th person to ask you this.

A. In written text, Chicago’s rule is to write a cardinal rather than an ordinal, even though the number may be pronounced as an ordinal:

  • the events of September 11
  • the September 11 tragedy
  • September 11, 2001

When a day alone is mentioned, it is usually in the form of an ordinal but spelled out:

  • September 10, 2001, was the last day of its kind in the United States. The tenth will therefore always be important, even as it stands in the shadow cast by the eleventh.
  • On November 5, McManus declared victory. By the twenty-fifth, most of his supporters had deserted him.
  1. 1 Posted by Rick on 10 Nov, 2008 10:27 PM

    Rick's Avatar

    I'm not sure how grammar stylings relate to programming language choice at all, but I appreciate your suggestion.

  2. brandi closed this discussion on 29 Jun, 2012 10:04 PM.

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