To follow up on the last post (Smart Fields: Dates), we’re going to take a quick look at how Origins lets you enter date values.  Using a screenshot from the last post, the field for entering dates looks like this:


Exactly what is displayed depends on how you’ve selected to enter the date.  The following options are available:

  • Exact: you’ll enter a single, specific date (day, month, year, or some combination of those)
  • Between: you’ll enter two dates, the earliest possible for whatever event and the latest possible.
  • Before: you’ll enter the latest possible date something could have happened
  • After: you’ll enter the earliest possible date something could have happened
  • About: you’ll enter an approximate date for the event
  • Regnal: you’ll enter a date based  upon the beginning of the reign of a given monarch.  Some records used this style of dates and Origins will help you to translate it into a “regular” calendar date while still maintaining the original value
  • Quaker: (this is new, and not shown in the above screenshot).  You’ll enter a date in the format used by the Quakers.  We’re still researching this, but it involves things like not using month names, only numbers and a few other things.  Eventually these will be handled like regnal dates where Origins calculates a regular calendar date, but still records the original value.

As mentioned, you don’t have to know a full date.  You enter what you know and Origins will do the best it can to figure out what you meant.  If we happen to get it wrong, you can easily change the value Origins calculated so that it is correct.

Regardless of how you choose to enter the date, there are a few important things to note:

  1. You don’t need to enter abbreviations – aft., bef., abt, etc.  Origins will handle that for you.  This helps to ensure consistency.
  2. You still need to enter an actual date value, and that’s what this post is about.

When entering a date, Origins will let you enter it just about any way you like, and it will handle translating it into month, day and year values.  It will also calculate the day of the week, take leap year’s into account, and provide guidance around handling different calendar systems, including the transition from Julian to Gregorian calendars.

We have tested entering dates in the following ways and everything works perfect:

(All of these examples are for a date of April 7, 1900)

  • 7 April 1900
  • April 7 1900
  • 1900 April 7
  • April 7 (no year specified)
  • 7 April (no year specified)
  • April 1900 (no day specified)
  • 1900 April (no day specified)
  • April (no day/year specified)
  • 1900 (no day/month specified)
  • 4 7 1900
  • 7 4 1900 (if your computer is using non-US English locale settings)
  • 1900 4 7 (if your computer is using non-US English locale settings)
  • 4 1900 (no day specified)
  • 1900 4 (no day specified)

In all of the above, we’re showing a space as the delimiter between the parts of the date, but it works equally well with any non-alphanumeric character – period, comma, dash, slash, etc. between day, month and year.  It even works if you combine delimiters, for example: April-4/1900 (though I don’t know why anyone would do that).

Remember, you don’t need to enter the “bef.” or “abt.” or anything like that, just the actual date value.

So far, the *only* format we’ve found that is not handled properly is:

  • 1900 7 4  – and only if you are using a US-English locale.  This is year-day-month in numeric format, which is not typical in the US, so we’re probably OK.

Currently, regardless of how you type in the date, it gets presented back to you as 7 Apr 1900, though this will eventually be configurable if you’d rather display in a different format – April 7, 1900, Apr 7 1900, etc.

Dates are tricky, and everyone seems to have a preferred way of entering and displaying them, so we’d love your feedback.  Did we miss a format you need?  Is there something else we missed?  Let us know either in the comments here or in our feedback Facebook group:


Dave & Lil