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You’re Dating Wrong

I’m not talking about your romantic life. Although, that could be a mess, too. It’s hard to date when you’re on a show. But that’s neither here nor there.

No, I’m writing about how you write dates on documents. Most Americans write the month, then the day. Today is 11/02, for instance. That’s how we say them out loud, too: “November 2nd.”1

When we add the year, we put it at the end: “November 2nd, 2015.” It sounds right, but you’ll notice the order is kinda messed up; months are composed of days, but then years are composed of months or days. It’s sorted medium, small, big.

That’s why many other countries switch the day and month around; 2/11/15. It goes small to big, which is all nice and logical, right?

Nooooooooope.
Nope.

Numbers don’t work that way. Remember in grade school, when you learned about the thousands’ place, the hundreds’ place, the tens’ place, etc? This is called positional notation, and it’s basically the reason we can do math much more easily with our number system than with Roman numerals.2

Notice that this standard way of writing numbers goes big to small. I’m sure there a lot of good reasons for this, but for our purposes, the most useful feature is sorting.

Your show probably has a standard way of labeling files, like the call sheet. For instance, ShowTitle_callsheet_110215. This is fine for the first season, but come season two, 110216 falls between 110215 and 110315. That’s no good.

If you date it the European way, it’s even worse. 021115 is followed by 021215, or December 2nd, 2015. If you’re doing anything other than a short film, the dates are going to get messed up in a hurry.

That’s why I date computer files year, month, day. I don’t write it that way on the PR heading or anything like that, just because people aren’t used to it. But it’s helpful for the file names, because you can sort things on the computer.

Sure, you can sort files by date in the file manager, but that’s assuming you’ve kept everything organized and neat, and haven’t edited anything after the fact. Suppose someone just throws all their files in one folder on the desktop. Then callsheets and PRs and everything are all mixed together.

Basically, what I’m saying is, year, month, day is a logical, useful progression. Maybe it won’t come up, but then again, maybe it will. It certainly won’t hurt to do it this way.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Unless it’s Independence Day, for some reason.
  2. Confession time: I actually wrote “numberals” first. Didn’t notice until it was underlined in red. :/
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4 Responses

  1. I too realized this was the way to go as a sound designer/mixer and began to “version” projects. Now when I explain my logic to students and others I can point to this post and say “See?! I’m NOT crazy at all!”

    1. I’m super happy to have this confirmed by other professionals, as well.

  2. I’m a DIT and that’s how I name files and folders too. Then when there’s reshoots a few months later, everything falls into proper order.

    1. I’m more proud because of this comment than any other compliment I’ve gotten on this blog.

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