On Always Using Two Digits to State the Day Component of a Date

There’s no end to the surprises. Evidently, I need to get out more.

In the immediately precedent post, the one about DLA Piper’s “Document Factory,” I said the following:

The date I specified as the “effective date” was stated in the output document’s introductory clause as “January 01, 2012,” with the redundant zero. I assume that’s due to a limitation in the technology rather than a drafting decision.

But a reader said in a comment that the date format isn’t a function of the technology. Since that reader was the document-automation expert Bart Earle, I’m happy to assume that he’s correct.

And longtime reader Westmorlandia added that complying with his U.K.-based firm’s official house style would have resulted in the date being stated 01 January 2012.

So some people evidently do add an extra zero in front of the digit in any date stating one of the first nine days of any month. But what’s the freakin’ point?

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

5 thoughts on “On Always Using Two Digits to State the Day Component of a Date”

  1. There should be no point unless you are dealing with fractional days (in which case the point will separate the ones and tenths places).

  2. When I was studying in England my teacher would correct the format “January (0)1, 2012” in “January 1st, 2012”, since the English definitely prefer the ordinal over the integer. So, the format is wrong on two levels. Personal hypothesis: it looks like a mashup of date formats: maybe it started as DD/MM/YYYY, but this is confusing, since in the U.S. the month goes first,  so someone decided to spell out “Month” to solve the problem, leaving that “01” behind in the classic lawyer spirit of “the more detail, the merrier”. Not always.

  3. I think 01 can leave no doubt that the 1st was intended, rather than the 11th or 10th (which could potentially be an issue with a photocopy of a photocopy or poor scanned copy of the agreement).

    Also because of the difference in date format between England and the US, I prefer to write the month as a word.

    • Matthew: Thank you for the explanation, but I’m not convinced. If fax quality is so bad that “1” could be read as “11” or “10”, presumably “10” could be read as “11”, “merger” could be read as “mongrel”, and so on. So the suggested problem seems unlikely and the proposed fix inadequate. Ken 

      • That’s a fair point. In practice, the more unfortunate problem I run into is where there is a gap for a date (e.g. this ___ day of ____, 2012) but it has not been filled in on signing.


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