The Year 08

I was writing the date on my taxes this morning and it hit me. I wrote today as 4/7/08. Why not 4/7/8? Why do I and most people always add the leading zero? Sure if you are writing 2008 it makes sense to include all the digits but why abbreviate the year to two digits when we so freely leave out leading zeros for the day and month?

Or sure we are not abbreviating the day or month but so what? There are forms, especially online, that want the leading zeros for days and months so it is not like we never add them. The day and month on my credit cards have leading zeros as well.

Not sure what to make of this. What is that drive for leading zeros on the year abbreviation?

One Response to “The Year 08”

  1. Matt says:

    I think it’s just that, for as long as any of us can remember, we’ve abbreviated the year to two digits: ’88 or ’98. So as creatures of habit, we kept up the double-digit pattern.

    Months wrap around every month (err, there’s a profound statement!), so we’re used to abbreviating them.

    It also just “looks” right — if I see 4/7/08, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a date. 4/7/8 is just a weird string of numbers. Plus, with myriad date formats, this way it’s clear that 08 is the year, and you’re just left wondering whether it’s the 7th of April of the 4th of July. (“99-12-31” is a valid date format, even if it is just asking for confusion…)

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