How-To Geek

How to Set the Default Short and Long Date and Time Formats Used in Word

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Inserting the date and time that automatically updates into a document can be useful. There are many formats for the date and time from which you can choose on the “Date and Time” dialog box, and you can control which formats for each are available.

When inserting the date and/or time using the “Date and Time” dialog box, you may have noticed the “Set As Default” button. This button is misleading as to what it actually does. When you select a format in the list on the “Date and Time” dialog box and click the “Set As Default” button, the selected format is used as the formatting switch when pressing “Shift + Alt + D” to insert the “DATE” field into a document.

The “Set As Default” button has nothing to do with which formats for the date and time are available on the “Date and Time” dialog box. You are not setting the default selection for the dialog box when you click that button. When you start Word, the first option in the “Date and Time” dialog box is selected by default. Word remembers what you selected while the program is open, so the next time you open the “Date and Time” dialog box during the same Word session, the option you picked last is selected by default. When you close Word, the next time you open the program, the first option in the list is selected again.

The top item in the list on the “Date and Time” dialog box reflects the short date setting specified in Window’s regional settings in the “Control Panel.” Therefore, if you want to change the format of the date shown at the top of the list, you need to make a change in the regional settings in Windows. To make this change, press the “Windows key + X” to access the command menu and select “Control Panel.”

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On the “Control Panel” window, click “Clock, Language, and Region,” if you are viewing by “Category.”

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On the “Clock, Language, and Region” screen, click “Change date, time, or number formats” under “Region.”

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If you are viewing the options on the “Control Panel” screen by “Large icons” or “Small icons…”

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…click the “Region” option in the list of “All Control Panel Items.”

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The “Region” dialog box displays. On the “Formats” tab, select an option from the “Short date” drop-down list. This format will be available at the top of the list on the “Date and Time” dialog box.

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To change the format of the first occurrence of the long date format on the “Date and Time” dialog box, select an option from the “Long date” drop-down list.

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You can also change the format for the first occurrences of the short and long time options on the “Date and Time” dialog box by selecting an option from the “Short time” drop-down list and one from the “Long time” drop-down list. Click “OK” when you are finished making your selections to save your changes and close the “Region” dialog box.

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To close the “Control Panel” click the “X” button in the upper-right corner of the window.

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When you insert the date and time in Word, your newly selected date formats are now available at the top of the list on the “Date and Time” dialog box. If you changed the default long and short time formats, those are available where the long and short dates are first listed on the dialog box.

NOTE: We used Word 2013 to illustrate this feature.

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Remember that the “Set As Default” button on the “Date and Time” dialog box sets the default format used when inserting the “DATE” field by pressing “Shift + Alt + D” in a document.

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If you click the “Set As Default” button on the “Date and Time” dialog box to change the format used when inserting the “DATE” field, you must click “Yes” on the confirmation dialog box to accept the change.

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Now, when you press “Shift + Alt + D” to quickly insert a date field, the date format you set as the default in the “Date and Time” dialog box is inserted. Remember, the default set using the “Set as Default” button on the “Date and Time” dialog box is different from the default short and long date and time formats listed in the dialog box, set using the “Control Panel” in Windows.

NOTE: When you change the default long and short date and time formats in Windows, this may also change the way dates display in other programs besides Word.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 05/14/15

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