What Day is It?

Oddly, including references to “today”, “tomorrow”, “yesterday” and so forth is something I spend a great deal of time thinking about in posts. Knowing the precise way to reference a time period can be difficult if you assume your story might be read or discovered via the long tail and not in the moment you hit the publish button. Luckily, with publishing on the web, each story essentially has a time stamp — the date and time — for easy reference if a reader becomes confused.  Glad I’m not the only one.

The Guardian, adjusting their AP Style to account for the online world, has all but eliminated those phrases from their website.

If a day is relevant (for example, to say when a meeting is going to happen or happened) we will state the actual day – as in “the government will announce its proposals in a white paper on Wednesday [rather than ‘tomorrow’]” or “the government’s proposals, announced on Wednesday [rather than ‘yesterday’], have been greeted with a storm of protest”.

The BBC has adopted a similar strategy, and one gets the sense that David Marsh, who in announcing the change for The Guardian, is a bit saddened by this policy only because it represents a tacit acknowledgement “in which a website is different from a newspaper.” Something that is positive about this change of policy is that it’s forcing the newspaper and their reporters to find new ways of reporting that avoid time cliches.

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  • Jeff Yablon February 21, 2011, 6:28 am

    An interesting point, but one without resosultion (as evident from your post, actually).

    Practically speaking, there are two "Solutions":

    1) Just don't worry about it. Nobody expects date relevance on the Internet. Probably not even in "news". And as you said, everyone can see dates on posts…and most people are used to looking for them before they assign a date context to something they read.
    2) Use a convention such as "as of this writing" on anything you write that's date-relevant.


    Jeff Yablon
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    Answer Guy and Virtual VIP Computer Support, Business Change Coaching and SEO Consulting/Search Engine Optimization Services

    • jamesfurbush February 21, 2011, 6:35 am

      Thanks Jeff. I prefer number two as a solution, as opposed to number one — simply because I have a difficult time of not worrying about it!

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