Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Understanding Default Insert Date Formatting.

Understanding Default Insert Date Formatting

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 23, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


To insert the date or time in a document, many people use the Date & Time tool on the Insert tab of the ribbon. When you choose this, you are presented with a dialog box that shows many different ways you can insert the date. The first option in the list of sample date formats always reflects how you have set the Short Date Style in your regional settings. If you want to change this date format, you must do so in Windows. The general steps are as follows, although they may differ slightly based on the version of Windows you are using:

  1. Display the Control Panel.
  2. Locate and double-click the Regional Settings applet. Shortly the Regional Settings Properties dialog box appears.
  3. Click on the Date tab.
  4. Change the value shown in the Short Date Style field, as desired.
  5. Click on OK to close the Regional Settings Properties dialog box.

Once you change the regional settings, the change is automatically available in Word. Thus, the next time you use the Date & Time tool, the different default date will be immediately available.

When you are using the Date & Time tool, remember that if you choose the Update Automatically check box at the bottom of the dialog box, the date is not inserted as text. Instead, it is inserted using the DATE field, with the /@ formatting switch set to match the date format you selected from the dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10514) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Default Insert Date Formatting.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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