I wanted to know, while writing dates such as 1st April or 2nd March; do we need to superscript the st and the nd as 1st April and 2nd March, or is it ok to write them without the superscript formatting. When to use superscript for dates and when not to use it?

I couldn't find any guidance regarding this in my style manual. Any guidance on this as per the Chicago or the Oxford Manual will be very helpful.

Thank you.

  • 3
    You do not need to use superscripts, but it is conventional to use superscripts (from a British perspective). Personally, I think it also adds clarity to use superscripts. Programs like Microsoft Word will often automatically change those to superscripts as you type them, which could be taken as suggesting that that is desirable.
    – TrevorD
    Apr 17 '16 at 14:20
  • 2
    It's entirely up to the style guide (written or assumed) you are following. Most people find using superscripts in most scenarios to be impractical. I certainly wouldn't bother unless being very formal or where the superscripting served a semantic purpose.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 17 '16 at 14:21

The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) is quite clear in section 9.35: "The day of the month. When specific dates are expressed, cardinal numbers are used, although they may be pronounced as ordinals."

  • 3
    I want to believe you because this sounds right, but do have a link which you can post IN the answer (not in a comment).
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 7 '19 at 17:22
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA The online CMS is paywalled so a link isn't going to be much use unless you want to go to the trouble of taking out a 30-day trial subscription. This link shows the contents for chapter 9, and 9.35 is titled "All-numeral dates and other brief forms", so I think it's reasonable to believe Patrick has quoted accurately and has fully met our expectations on what a good answer should include. Feb 7 '19 at 23:39
  • BTW, welcome Patrick to EL&U (although I notice you've been registered with us for a while!). We like to be a bit particular regarding the quality of our site's answers: they're expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why they're correct. The "authoritative" element usually means citing a trustworthy source, preferably with a link, which is why Mari-Lou posted her comment. Feb 7 '19 at 23:51
  • One suggestion: you could edit your answer to explain that this section 9.35 is more relevant than the section cited in the other answer, since the other is about general use of superscripts whereas 9.35 applies to the specific situation described in the question, i.e. how to treat dates. You could even explain the difference between cardinal and ordinal so that your answer is readily understandable for those less expert in these terms. :-) Feb 7 '19 at 23:55
  • I guess you want the reader to infer that the question is irrelevant since “st”, etc. should, according to the CMS, not be written at all. I think this should be explicitly stated for this answer to be considered on-topic. Moreover, for a good answer, the advice of more than a single style guide should be taken into account. Mar 25 '20 at 19:21

The Chicago Manual of Style 2017 says in section 9.6:

The letters in ordinal numbers should not appear as superscripts (e.g., 122nd, not 122nd).

According to Wikipedia, Bluebook and style guides by the Council of Science Editors, Microsoft, and Yahoo recommend the same.

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