Patterns Data formats

Data formats

Different types of numeric and linguistic data are represented using data formats.

Date and time values may be formatted to depict ranges, time zones, abbreviations, and more, as appropriate to the context.

Data redaction and truncation guidelines describe how to represent truncated numbers and disguise sensitive data.

Formats represented

Time
Month, day, year
Approximating time
Absolute time
Time zones
Abbreviations
Rounded numbers

000 • • • 0000

12:00 UTC

Data truncation and time display examples

Date & time Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Date and time

How you format the date and time depends on a few factors:

  • If the time or date is the current one
  • Whether you are using the 12-hour or 24-hour clock
  • How specific you need to be

Element

Description

Example

Time

Within the current day, display the time using uppercase AM or PM, without periods. If you are using the 24-hour clock, display the time without AM/PM.

Many non-English languages use lowercase am and pm.

2:00 PM
14:00

Month, day, and year

Within the current calendar year, display the date without the year. Otherwise, display the date and year.

January 14
14 January 2012

Approximate time

Approximate time rounds down to the largest and most recent date or time unit.

In 5 minutes
3 days ago

Absolute time

When approximate time isn’t appropriate, display the specific date and/or time.

Today, 10:00 AM

Time and date ranges

Date and time ranges are formatted based on the following:

  • The year is the same on both sides of the range
  • It’s the current year on both sides of the range
  • Whether both times have the same AM or PM

Range element

Description

Example

En dash

Separate a range of dates or times with an en dash, without spaces. Add spaces when spelling out months, or to remove ambiguity.

8:00 AM–12:30 PM
6 Jan – 2 Feb

Year

Show the year on both the start and end, unless both dates have the current year.

Dec 6, 2013–Jan 2, 2014
January 4–6, 2014

AM/PM

Use a single AM or PM at the end of the range, if both times have the same AM/PM.

8:00–10:30 AM

Time zones

As time zones vary across regions, time zone usage should be both clear and relevant.

Types of time zones

Description

Example

Single-digit hours

Remove the leading 0 for single digit hours.

UTC+5:00

Single times zones

Use two-letter time zones when referring to a single time zone. Remove the S (for Standard) or D (for Daylight).

Open 4–10 PM ET

Combination time zones

When specifying a date for a nationwide audience, include Standard or Daylight acronyms (such as EDT) to avoid confusion. Some U.S. states, such as Arizona, don't use daylight savings time.

The first game is on April 13, 2015 at 4 PM EDT.

Date and time modifications by context

Depending on the context, show either date or time, or both date and time.

Context

Description

Example

Future

Include time to a future day or date.

10 Jan, 08:00

Past

When referring to a past time, display both date and time.

Reminded Jan 5, 7:16 AM

Distant past

Omit the time for events in the distant past.

3 Jan

Weekday

When referring to a day of the week, such as for Calendar invites, display the abbreviated day separated by a comma.

Mon, Jan 10, 8:00 AM

Duration

Show the duration of a recording, like audio or video, in the format H:MM:SS. Omit hours or seconds if they don’t apply.

Use the same format across the same context. A video labelled “3:15” referring to hours and minutes, should not use that time format later on that page to refer to minutes and seconds.

0:30
1:01:05

Abbreviations

Where space is limited, use abbreviations for months and days.

Time period

Description

Example

Months

Months can be abbreviated or numeric. Many languages do not abbreviate month names.

Jan 6
3/12/12

Date format

The US date format is month/day/year, but other countries use day/month/year.

March 12, 2012 written as 03/12/12 could be misinterpreted to mean December 3, 2012 across different users.

Days of the week

Days of the week may be abbreviated using the first letter of each day.

S for Sunday
M for Monday

Day and time

Abbreviated days of the week may be combined with a time.

Sun, 2:00 PM
Sun, 14:00

Rounded numbers

Abbreviated numerical units, which remove the “:00,” are appropriate for timestamps, labels on graphs, durations, etc.

8 AM
2 hr 32 min ago

Talking about date and time

Display date and time information as people normally speak to each other, when space is available.

  • Refer to yesterday or tomorrow in those terms
  • If the day is in the upcoming week, display the day of the week (such as Tuesday)
  • Describe a time of day in other ways that promote understanding, such as, “Store open 9:00 AM–Midnight” or “Reminder for tomorrow afternoon”

Data redaction and truncation Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Redacting numbers

Midline ellipses [• • •] are bulleted characters that partially hide sensitive data. They indicate when a number, such as a credit card or Social Security number, is not entirely visible.

When to use 3 ellipses

To redact most numbers, like Social Security numbers, use three midline ellipses [• • •].

You may use this format across typefaces and platforms:
1. Place two regular spaces before the first midline ellipse
2. Then add a thin space between each midline ellipse and after the final one.

Or, use the Unicode string instead: U0020,U0020,U2022,U2006,U2022,U2006,U2022,U2006

SSN • • • 5678

Do.

When to use 4 ellipses

Credit and debit card data must be redacted using four midline ellipses [• • • •].

Written in Unicode:
U0020,U0020,U2022,U2006,U2022,U2006,U2022,U2006,U2022,U2006

Visa • • • • 1234

Do.

Ellipses for credit card redaction

Redacting letters

Baseline ellipses [...] represent letters, words, or phrases that aren’t shown. They also represent when a name or email address is only partially visible.

Usage

Type the ellipses as three periods in a row (or Unicode character U2026) after the last letter shown.

PayPal krestovozdvizhensky@goog…

Do.

Redacted email address with three baseline ellipses.