What is the advantage of MLA-style date format over the format recommended by the International Standards Organization (ISO)?

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

The International Standards Organization recommends writing dates with numerals in year-month-day format (e.g., 2018-10-24) because it is useful when people need to convey information across international borders about such practical matters as “[o]rganizing meetings and deliveries, writing contracts and buying airplane tickets” (“Date and Time Format”). The MLA Handbook, in contrast, recommends the more humanistic approach of spelling out the month and using either the day-month-year format (e.g., 24 October 2018) or the month-day-year format (e.g., October 24, 2018) in prose because MLA style was devised for writers of research papers in the humanities (94). 

Works Cited

“Date and Time Format—ISO 8601.” International Organization for Standards, www.iso.org/iso-8601-date-and-time-format.html. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018. 

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.