The Complete Guide to Date Formats in R


The following table shows a variety of symbols that you can use to format dates in R:

Symbol Definition Example
%d Day as a number 19
%a Abbreviated weekday Sun
%A Unabbreviated weekday Sunday
%m Month as a number 04
%b Abbreviated month Feb
%B Unabbreviated month February
%y 2-digit year 14
%Y 4-digit year 2014

The following examples show how to use each of these formats in practice.

Example 1: Format Date with Day, Month, Year

The following code shows how to format a date using a month/day/year format:

#define date
date <- as.Date("2021-01-25")

#format date
formatted_date <- format(date, format="%m/%d/%y")

#display formatted date
formatted_date

[1] "01/25/21"

Note that we can use whatever separators we’d like in between each value.

For example, we could use dashes instead:

#define date
date <- as.Date("2021-01-25")

#format date
formatted_date <- format(date, format="%m-%d-%y")

#display formatted date
formatted_date

[1] "01-25-21"

Example 2: Format Date as Weekday

The following code shows how to format a date using a weekday format:

#define date
date <- as.Date("2021-01-25")

#format date as abbreviated weekday
format(date, format="%a")

[1] "Mon"

#format date as unabbreviated weekday
format(date, format="%A")

[1] "Monday"

Example 3: Format Date as Month

The following code shows how to format a date as a month:

#define date
date <- as.Date("2021-01-25")

#format date as abbreviated month
format(date, format="%b")

[1] "Jan"

#format date as unabbreviated month
format(date, format="%B")

[1] "January"

We can also format the date as a month and a day:

#define date
date <- as.Date("2021-01-25")

#format date as abbreviated month
format(date, format="%b %d")

[1] "Jan 25"

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations involving dates in R:

How to Sort a Data Frame by Date in R
How to Subset by a Date Range in R
How to Convert Strings to Dates in R

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