The month dilemma

We're about to run into a problem.

As you know, on a lot of forms we tend to abbreviate months. It's easier to type and view, but especially in the computer era we like having narrow columns on spreadsheets. You can see in the example below that to abbreviate the months drops your space requirement by 47%:

The summer months cause a bit of a wrinkle though. May, for example, gets off easy: it's already only 3 letters long. What tends to happen is that people get larger spreadsheets with schedules that no longer show April dates by the time May turns to June. For example, many businesses have to align weekly plans which feed into monthly sales metrics. May 1st 2020 for example was the Friday of Week 18, so even though four of the five business days of that week fall within April, it counts as a May sales week (as seen below).

Now as your business is tracking your daily output compared to your weekly plan, you also want to know which sales month it falls in (which as we've established may not be the same month as the day you're looking at). Businesses might want to keep track of this daily data. That means a spreadsheet will be showing 25 lines of "May" workdays before switching to "Jun".

Meanwhile a managerial summary may only track the previous 14 days which means April ("Apr") will be long forgotten. June instead of Jun is only one extra letter and doesn't really add the space that "breaks" the sheet, as ends up happening in the example seen on the right. June eventually turns to July, and you can suddenly forget that you're supposed to be abbreviating all these months. That mistake works all fine and good, it doesn't really impact anything.

Yep, everything looking fine.

No problems at all.

We're going great.

Until now.

We're coming to the end of July, which is followed by August. Now things are getting weird. Do I go back and change all the July to Jul and June to Jun? Do I sneak extra width in and then make August the full month name? It really falls apart when it's September and I'm back to my wide columns again.

We had a sweet ride for the last three spreadsheet-entering months. But the rocky waters are ahead.