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Abbreviating Months and Days

By Judy Vorfeld

Wonder how to abbre­vi­ate days of the week and months? Let’s take three excel­lent style guides and see what they offer.

THE GREGG REFERENCE MANUAL, TENTH EDITION (502) says, “Days of the week, names of the months … should be abbre­vi­ated only on busi­ness forms, in expe­di­ent doc­u­ments, and in tables, lists, and nar­row columns of text.”

Gregg is address­ing the use of busi­ness doc­u­ments, for the most part. In other kinds of writ­ing, where a more for­mal style is appro­pri­ate, use abbre­vi­a­tions spar­ingly. When in doubt, spell it out.”

A recent AP STYLEBOOK says, “When a month is used with a spe­cific date, abbre­vi­ate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.”

It says that in tab­u­lar mate­r­ial, use three-letter forms with­out a period (the first three let­ters of each month).

The AP Stylebook, pub­lished pri­mar­ily for jour­nal­ists, also says to cap­i­tal­ize the days of the week, and to not abbre­vi­ate them except when needed to facil­i­tate tab­u­lar composition.

THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, 16th EDITION (10.40, 1041) sup­ports the works of authors, edi­tors, proof­read­ers, index­ers, copy­writ­ers, design­ers, and pub­lish­ers. “Where space restric­tions require that names of the month be abbre­vi­ated,” it says, “one of the fol­low­ing sys­tems is often used.” It fol­lows with these examples:

  • Jan. (or Jan or Ja)
  • Feb. (or Feb or F)
  • Mar. (or Mar or Mr)
  • Apr. (or Apr or Ap)
  • May (or May or My)
  • June (or Jun or Je)
  • July (or Jul or Jl)
  • Aug. (or Aug or Ag)
  • Sept. (or Sep or S)
  • Oct. (or Oct or O)
  • Nov. (or Nov or N)
  • Dec. (or Dec or D)

CMS says much the same about days of the week. Use where space restric­tions exist as follows:

  • Sun. or Sun or Su
  • Mon. or Mon or M
  • Tues. or Tues or Tu
  • Wed. or Wed or W
  • Thurs. or Thurs or Th
  • Fri. or Fri or F
  • Sat. or Sat or Sa

Incidentally, you can buy the online edi­tion of the AP Stylebook here.

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