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Airtable Date Fields Explained: Formatting, Time, and Time Zones

Dates are a funny thing in programming because they can have so many different formats and then timezones add an extra degree of complexity. Dates in Airtable are no different. If a record displays a date and time of 4:39 on 11/2/23, some people will think that is 4 o’clock in the morning on February 11 of 2023, while others will be unsure of whether it is 4 AM or 4 PM on November 2, 2023. Luckily, Airtable allows us great flexibility in formatting dates that will work for people all around the world.

Every record in Airtable has at least two date/time fields,even if you don’t add one, because all records have a created and last modified date. You can also add Date fields of your own. 

Creating a Date Field

The first box you will see is ‘Date format’. This will choose how the date is displayed. If most of your users are in the United States, you may use M/D/YYYY. Here are all of the formats you can choose from.

  • Local: It guesses which format you want based on your browser settings. For me, it uses the US format of month/day/year (even though I NEVER use that).
  • Friendly: This will display the month name (March) then the day, then the year. This cuts down on any confusion on whether day or month is first, but I personally find it more difficult to work with.
  • US: The month/day/year format
  • European: the day/month/year format
  • ISO: The year/month/day format. This is my preferred format as to me it makes the most sense to work from the outside-in. First give me the year, then narrow it down by month, and then by day.

Adding Time to a Date Field

You can choose the 12 hour format with the am/pm designation, or a 24 hour format so that 5:25pm will be displayed as 17:25. I prefer the latter. You will learn that my date and time preferences aren’t very American.

When to Use Time on a Date Field

It makes sense to use time if the field will be used for things like appointments, or events that have a start time, or to timestamp things (as they do with the created and last modified dates). However, if you are using the field for deadlines, the time field probably isn’t necessary as you just want to see the day something is due.

Time Zones

You can display the time zone in the field which is helpful for teams working in different parts of the world. All times are stored in GMT so if you click the ‘Display time zone’ toggle, it will try to calculate what the user’s time zone is. Alternatively, you can click “Use the same time zone for all collaborators” and it will only display what that time zone is for everyone. For instance, if a company’s headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois in the USA, you can set the time zone to be “America/Chicago” so that if someone from London, England made an update at 8:30am, it will show up as 3:30am (or 03:30).

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