Numbers: B.C./A.D.

June 12, 2008: Issue 243

To prevent the appearance of cultural or religious bias, avoid B.C. and A.D. in dates.

Any year in the past two millennia doesn’t need a qualifier.
acceptable: The city was first settled around 1050 A.D.
preferred: The city was first settled around 1050.

If you’re worried about confusion, add “the year.”
acceptable: By 500 A.D., the Byzantine style had taken hold.
preferred: By the year 500, the Byzantine style had taken hold.

For earlier dates, try establishing them in relation to today, rather than in relation to the birth  of Christ.
acceptable: Residents of Crete began cultivating olives around 5,000 B.C.
preferred: Residents of Crete began cultivating olives about 7,000 years ago.

Back to Style on the Go Archive
Back to BHG Stylebook Table of Contents