How to convert European dates to US dates in Word

How to convert European dates to US dates in Word: Overview

Do you want to know how to convert European dates to US dates in Word? Look no further. Just follow the steps below.

If you’re not sure how to convert European dates to US dates in Word, rest easy. It’s a fairly straightforward process that will save you a lot of time.

  1. Ensure that all dates in your document are indeed in European format, i.e., dd-mm-yyyy (or dd-mm-yy).
  2. Use a regular expression in MS Word’s Advanced Find/Replace feature to locate all dates in European format.
  3. Change dates to US format using the Replace button.
  4. Check the result.

Figure 1, a table from a Spanish-language source document, contains dates in European format. Conceptually, the dates look like this: [two-digit day] [hyphen] [two-digit month] [hyphen] [four-digit year].

01-before1-7749989Figure 1. All dates appear in European format. Microsoft Word’s Find/Replace feature lets you to change the date format without changing the numbers. (Click to enlarge.)

The US date format needs to look like this: [two-digit month] [hyphen] [two-digit day] [hyphen] [four-digit year].

Save yourself a lot of manual work. Let MS Word do the conversions for you by using regular expressions. (Regular expressions are combinations of text and wildcard characters.)

Remember: if you can automate a task, then you should! (Nine times out of ten, anyway.)

How to convert European dates to US dates in Word: Steps

    1. In Word’s Find dialog box, check “Use wildcards” (Figure 2).


02-find-4424701Figure 2. This regular expression finds all dates in European format (dd-mm-yyyy). (Click to enlarge.)

    1. In the Find what: field, type the following sequence:


      • In plain English, the above means “Find a two-digit number (here, the day) followed by a hyphen followed by a two-digit number (the month) followed by another hyphen followed by a four-digit number (the year).” (We’re not actually going to change the year, but leaving that term in our expression ensures that we don’t inadvertently find and replace strings that we don’t want to convert.)
    1. In the Replace with: field, type the following:

2-1-3The above means “Switch the order of the first term (1) and the second term (2) but leave the third term (3) as is (Figure 3). Notice the hyphen between each term. (We “replace” the hyphens so we don’t have a second operation to do later.)

03-replace-2785101Figure 3. The text in the “Replace with:” field tells Microsoft Word to transpose the first and second terms. (Click to enlarge.)

    1. Click “Replace All” to convert all European-formatted dates to US-formatted dates; the numbers stay the same (Figure 4).


04-after-4127457Figure 4. All dates have been changed from European format to US format. (Click to enlarge.)

Why add the year in our string if we’re not doing anything to it? Well, consider what would happen if we searched only for two-term strings separated by a hyphen, e.g., “08-12,” “12-15,” etc. These strings could represent month-year combinations in European and US formats. In the event that our document has any dates that don’t include the day, we won’t accidentally change them.

Being as specific as possible with your regular expressions means that you avoid changing strings that don’t need to be changed.

Want to see for yourself how it works? Download a sample table and give it a go!

Knowing how to convert European dates to US dates in Word is a trick that all translators should have up their sleeve. If you work in the other direction (say, English into German or English into Spanish), the above trick will work as well. (The principle is the same: transposition.)

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Need to convert European number format to US format? Check out our related post: Converting European number formats in MS Word.

“Consejo de Seguridad,” United Nations.


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