Changing European Dates to US Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 7, 2019)

1

Alan translates documents from languages that use the European date format (dd/mm/yyyy). Often these documents have many, many dates throughout them. It is very time consuming for him to change these dates into the US format (mm/dd/yyyy). Alan is wondering if there is a trick he can use to automate the change.

One way you can handle this is to use wildcards in Find and Replace. Here's how to set it up:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is visible. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Select the Use Wildcards check box.
  5. In the Find What box, enter this: ([0-9]{2})/([0-9]{2})/([0-9]{4})
  6. In the Replace With box, enter this: \2/\1/\3 (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. All ready to replace.

  8. Click Replace All.

The key to how this works is in the search pattern used in step 4. This finds all instances of two digits, followed by a slash, followed by two digits, followed by a slash, and followed by four digits. Each grouping of digits (2, 2, and 4) is treated as a unit, and the "replace with" pattern (step 5) switches the first and second units.

This approach only works with date patterns that match what Alan specified: dd/mm/yyyy. If there are some dates that use single digits for the day or month or dates that use only two digits for the year, it won't work. You could modify the search pattern (step 4) to find dates that use either one or two digits for the day or month in this manner:

([0-9]{1,2})/([0-9]{1,2})/([0-9]{4})

Further, if your date format uses dashes between parts (dd-mm-yyyy), then you would need to modify the search pattern again:

([0-9]{1,2})-([0-9]{1,2})-([0-9]{4})

You would also need to modify the "replace with" pattern, accordingly, changing out slashes for dashes:

\2-\1-\3

Finally, if you use the Find and Replace method described here, you'll want to run it only once. If you run it twice, you will end up switching the day and month positions again.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13671) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Controlling the Bold Text Attribute

When processing a document in a macro, you may need to make some of your text bold. It's easy to do using the Bold ...

Discover More

Creating a List

You can format both numbered and bulleted lists very easily in Word. The tools available on the Home tab of the ribbon ...

Discover More

Grabbing a Screen Shot

There are times that a picture is worth a thousand words. When you need to capture a picture of what is on your screen, ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Getting Rid of Trailing Spaces in Footnotes and Endnotes

The Find and Replace tool can get rid of trailing spaces in paragraphs quite nicely. If those spaces are at the end of ...

Discover More

Finding Text Using a Specific Highlighting Color

If you use the highlighter tool extensively, you may want to search for text that is highlighted using a particular ...

Discover More

Highlighting Found Text

When searching for text, Word can helpfully highlight all instances of what is found. If you want that highlighting to be ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 0?

2019-09-09 13:04:07

David Gray

Those find and replace formulas look like Perl compatible regular expressions and substitutions. I wasn't aware that Word supports regular expressions. That opens the door to some very powerful find and replace operations.


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.