The better date format: YYYYMMDD, DDMMYYYY, or MMDDYYYY?

Date format chart

Do you ever put the date in your filename on your computer? If so, what date format do you use?

Take today, January 9, 2020. Here’s some ways you could date your file:

  • “Jan 9, 2020”
  • “1-9-2020”
  • “9-Jan-2020”
  • “09-01-2020”
  • “2020-01-09”
  • “20200109”

I love dating all my files and folders on my computer using the last one in this list, “20200109” aka, YYYYMMDD. It sorts BEAUTIFULLY!

Beautifly is a fun word.

Here’s a screenshot of some old files on my computer, using YYYYMMDD

screenshot of sorting folders by YYYYMMDD

This date format sorts beautifully on a computer.

You can even get the current YYYYMMDD_HHMM to automatically copy onto clipboard. I wrote an app that copies the current time/date with a single mouse-click.

If you use a format that puts the month first (MMDDYYYY or MM-DD-YYYY), then over the course of several years, all your files from one month would get mashed together. “Hey, here’s a file I worked on from July 2019 right next to a file I made in July 2018. That’s helpful! I want to know what I did in July for every year.” (not really)

If you were trying to be European and put the date first (DD-MM-YYYY), then well, you could see all the files you worked on the 13th of every month together. And then all the files from the 14th of every month together. Yipes!

YYYYMMDD or YYYY-MM-DD is clearly superior. It completely sorts by date without any problems.

You know who uses YYYYMMDD? China, Japan, South & North Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Hungary, Mongolia, Lithuania, and Bhutan. That’s right, Lithuania is in the list of great countries who know how to date things properly. Right nearby to this Baltic country is my heritage, Estonia. (I’m half Estonian). However, Estonia, land of the e-government, doesn’t use YYYYMMDD. *shakes my head*

A Google search for YYYYMMDD DDMMYYYY MMDDYYYY yields results that are all technical answers on how to convert the date format via coding. I want to know about the CULTURE of using these date formats.

Maybe I should search on They have helpful articles. Guess what? They have zero results for this search. ZERO.

There’s has got to be a history behind this. Some groups hundreds of years ago started dating things in a particular order. Who started which format? Which groups did it?

Ok, let’s change the Google query to use following words:
“date format” why culture history.
And let’s remove stuff like:
-convert -parse -code -program -python -javascript -php

Hmmm. Nothing really.

If anyone knows of any articles or books, please let me know! Google is not answering my question.

funny image used in header is from

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3 years ago

“20200109” aka, “YYYYMMMDD”… error in third para.

Mariano Daniel
Mariano Daniel
1 year ago

Maybe here you can find some history on this topic:

1 year ago

Thanks for your post, I was wondering should I start with the year or the day
Of course it matters more on computers but I think you have convinced me to use year first format if I ever have to store computer stuff
Let’s just hope my memory does not fail me 😀

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