How to Separate Dates in Technical Writing With a Comma or Semicolon

How to Separate Dates in Technical Writing With a Comma or Semicolon

Technical writing has become more prevalent online and in resume building. While it tends to follow the same rules of grammar as AP Style and the Chicago Manual of Style, it can be a tricky subject to navigate correctly in a large body of text. Understanding the rules of how to separate dates in technological writing with a comma or semicolon can keep you from making a faux pas, catch mistakes as they occur and overall streamline your writing.

1 Comma Considerations

The comma has a couple of useful ways in technical writing for separating dates. It seems basic, but it can carry some importance if a comma is accidentally omitted. A comma is used between the day of the month and the year, as in June 1, 2018. If the date precedes a thought, a comma is used after the year as well, as in June 1, 2018, the uprising began. The comma is omitted if only the month and year are in play, such as in June 2018 saw healthy growth.

2 Semicolon Solutions

A semicolon is used to assist the reader or speaker in distinguishing dates that are in a series. For instance, in the following sentence: “The growth rate continued to rise quarterly, June 1, 2017; September, 1, 2017; and January 1, 2018.” The semicolon differentiates each date as its own significant subject, helping to convey the information more succinctly.

3 Exceptions and Rules to Know

It can be confusing when dates and numerals should or should not be separated by a comma or semicolon. For instance, don’t use numerals or a comma when a number appears immediately before another number as part of the same sentence, such as twelve 45 discs. If a series of numbers is written out, rely on numerals to create a clear and concise sentence that is easy on the reader, such as 3 men, 20 functional programs and 50 seats made the system complete. The start of a sentence should never begin with a numeral.

The main rule to write out all numbers below 10 has a few exceptions. Numbers are used with units of measure, dates, times, page numbers, percentages and money. Any number that is greater than 9 should be written in numerals. Hyphens should be used between the number and the unit of measure in the case of modifying a noun, such as an 8-year-old boy or 5-pound brick. Fractions are always written out as numerals, as are decimals with semicolons after the numeral, if it is in a series.

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at