I have a spreadsheet with several columns. And one must contain the date and time. But I don't know what to write as the header.

In programming terms, it is a "datetime". But I suspect this would just look odd to a layman. What is the best alternative word or phrase to use.

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    Are you putting "Integer" at the top of columns which contain int values? Put something which describes what the contents mean, not what type they are. – Peter Taylor Sep 28 '11 at 12:32
  • So, in this situation (where each row is an order) you would use the caption "order placed", then populate it with dates and times? That's fine, as long as it's not blank for some reason. Then the reader will have to guess what should be in there. They may expect it to be a true or false value. – Urbycoz Sep 28 '11 at 12:53
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    "Order Placed When" – Peter Taylor Sep 28 '11 at 12:59
  • Yes, that does it I guess. I was hoping there might be a more succinct phrase. It feels like it would be a useful thing. – Urbycoz Sep 28 '11 at 13:39
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    I would just say "Ordered"... The inference (IMO) should take care of the rest... You seem really concerned about being very succinct with this. What is the intended audience (regular user/ super user/ admin) that this sheet is intended at. If you are really worried about exactness we may be able to modify for you. I've personally aimed my answers at the most concise thing I could think of. – Rikon Sep 28 '11 at 13:43

I would go with simply date and time. That is a phrase in common use, and would be commonly understood.

I think that in your situation, however, you might not need a variant of datetime; Rikon gives a couple example alternatives (Date Created or Date Modified) which describe the meaning of the date and time, rather than just saying date and time. This is more user-friendly in a spreadsheet.

  • Why not simply use time? "time" is the generic word for both date and time right? – Pacerier Dec 22 '13 at 4:38
  • Because time in a literal context such as this exclusively refers to time of day. 0:00:00 to 23:59:59. Only in a context which does not require precise temporal anchorage can it be used to mean a date. (e.g. Remember that time your friend jumped over a bonfire?) – Daniel Dec 23 '13 at 14:05
  • What about "when"? "when" can mean both date and time right? – Pacerier Dec 23 '13 at 15:59
  • Yes, 'tis true, but that would be undeniably colloquial, not necessarily suited to a business application. – Daniel Dec 23 '13 at 21:20

I would just be more descriptive about what the date is... if it's a "time stamp" of some sort, then I think that's descriptive... I'm suspecting that it's a CreatedDate or ModifiedDate of some sort, in which case I would simlply say that: "Date Created" or "Date Modified"...

The fact that it includes the time doesn't need to be reflected in the column header...


After evolving through this thought, many of us agree that the word date is not even necessary "Created", "Modified", "Ordered", etc.. is what I feel is the most concise way to do this. The fact that it's a datetime should be inferrable in most instances.

  • Mmm I guess that's fair enough. Nobody's going to be confused when they see a time in the date column. It's just not technically correct. – Urbycoz Sep 28 '11 at 12:54
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    yeah, I'm sure there are situations in which the audience needs to know (from the header) that the data below is a datetime, but if this isn't one of those cases I think it'll read more naturally if you describe the context of the datetime, not the nature of the datetime... – Rikon Sep 28 '11 at 13:14
  • You seem to have retreated a bit from what you said in comments to the original question. I don't see any point in including the word Date at all. Every such column must have some meaningful wording to identify the actual event for which the datetime is being recorded - Created, Modified, Ordered, Despatched, or whatever fits the context. Input validation will take care of any possible confusion if the user thinks he can just enter a Yes/No value. But at least you're not just proposing to call it "Date and Time", so have the upvote. – FumbleFingers Sep 28 '11 at 14:34
  • Agreed... I put in the answer before I added the comment. I agree with you that Created, Modfied, Ordered, etc.. is appropriate... I didn't retreat from this answer to my comment, I evolved from this answer to that comment... I'll append the post w/ this stuff :) – Rikon Sep 28 '11 at 14:41
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    +1, and I'd say that not only is the word "date" unnecessary, but it actually confuses the issue since you're then showing a date and a time. – Kevin Sep 28 '11 at 15:00

I'd suggest "point in time". It's a non-technical term, and it implies more accuracy than simply a "date".

(This is an answer to the question in your title. To answer the question about the spreadsheet, I'd go with a descriptive alternative as suggested by the others.)

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