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I file reports that cover monthly periods of time. I thought that the heading at the top that says "Month ending February" would refer to the report including all of February. (I am writing this in February.) So I would complete it on March 1st or so.

It depends on the emphasis: "month ending" as one phrase means the end of the month in question, but if I emphasize "ending", it could mean, the month that ends when February begins. That to me is wrong.

Which is correct? I think the heading of the report should be changed to just say "Month: February" and leave the "ending" thing out of it.

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    I have never seen this use of "ending" without a specific date, such as "the fiscal year ending October 31, 2015" or the "month ending February 29, 2016." So if this is truly the case in your reports, I understand your confusion.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:06
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    @cobaltduck indeed. "Month ending January" is objectively nonsensical since January is a month. One would either say "month of January" or, if one wants to denote a month-long period that started in December, add a specific date, like "month ending January 15th." Even that seems a bit odd.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:22
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    @phoog: Per-month cycles that don't coincide with calendar months, such as utility bills, pay periods, account interest, and so on, are in fact commonly written as "month ending January 15." I don't find it odd at all. The OP's reports that lack a specific date, OTOH, are definitely odd.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:29
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    Are you sure you haven't missed out the next line, and it actually says "Month ending February 28th" or something? Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:31
  • @cobaltduck So, this is a per-month cycle which coincides with the calendar month. It is awkward, because normally teaching units are periods of weeks, and so end at the end of a week. We switched from a system where we would end at the end of a week, even if that meant crossing over a few days in to the next month, to one where we provide reports that cover only the calendar month, even if it ends in the middle of a week. I can't find an old report now to see if it used to say "Ending March 3" or whatever.
    – user126158
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:55

1 Answer 1

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“Month ending” means up to and including the last day of the month. In some months that is the 28th, the 29th, the 30th, or the 31st. So the catch-all “month ending” can be used in any month.

The reason the “ending” is in there is to tell you specifically that the report is for the complete month. A “February report” might be an incomplete report that was made on February 21st and only covers February 1 through February 20th. It would have to be amended with data from the 21st through the end of the month to be a report that could be described as being “Month ending, February.”

At the end of the year you would have 12 reports:

  • month ending, January
  • month ending, February
  • month ending, March
  • etc.

… and that would identify them as all belonging to a set.

If you had this instead:

  • 31st of January
  • 28th of February
  • 31st of March
  • etc.

… it is not as clear that these are all part of a set of complete-month reports. I would have to read down the list and recognize that all 12 do in fact represent the end of the month. And the leap year in February would be ambiguous in many cases. February 2016 has 29 days. If you turned in a “28th of February” report this month, I would wonder if it is a full month, or did you only do the report up until the 28th and forget it is a leap year.

So “month end” is actually a simple way to identify complete-month reports as being complete-month reports.

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  • Wow, you made it comprehensible! Now if someone could just propose a calendar that has 28 days per month, and every year starts on the same day of the week, we would save so much time and effort! Oh, that's right, it has been proposed for over a hundred years and never accepted...
    – user126158
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 18:33
  • I'm surprised that this counter-intuitive terminology is actually used (though research shows that it is). As cobaltduck observes, a specific date is usually given, especially since the term 'month' is polysemous. To make this answer a good one, you need to add supporting evidence: either licensing from a respected style guide (this may prove very difficult), or a couple of examples from respected organisations. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 10:48

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