Prevent Invalid Dates in Your Labels. Reducing Errors Series – Article #2

Summary

Ever see an expiration date of November 31st on a label?  How about February 30th? April 31st? June 31st?

Invalid dates can enter your label by either human entry or an erroneous mathematical calculation caused by a simple formula.  Although both types of error are possible, steps can be taken to reduce or eliminate them.  Features commonly available in professional label software can stop users from entering invalid dates and auto correct formulas that lead to calculating them.  This article explains how invalid dates like this can easily appear on  labels and how this can be avoided.

Avoiding Invalid Dates

Most industrial labeling software applications have built-in features can help avoid the use of invalid dates if configured correctly. The invalid date can come from two sources:

  • Human entry error
  • Miscalculation

Human Entry Error

This is a very common mistake.  The best approach is to link the input field to a formula or script that will detect an invalid date and either:

  1. Not allow it (more typical)
  2. Automatically correct it

For example, print user types: "November 31" and system displays: "Error"

Miscalculation

To prevent the software from calculating an invalid date automatically, most applications have a feature that will allow you to force a valid date calculation.  In the case where 'adding three months' produced an invalid date (e.g. August 31 - November 31st) you can often provide a rule that goes to the next valid date or previous date.  Increasingly this ability is offered as a standard feature.  However, if your software does not have this feature, you typically can use a formula or VB script to make it work.

For example, user enters: "August 31" and formula in label adds three months displaying: "November 30" (not November 31)

Other Helpful Links

For information about these tools in CODESOFT, you can access the Efficient Business Integrators knowledge base article Printing an Invalid Date – CODESOFT Problem

For other methods of reducing error, please see the EBI Labeling Concept article Reduce Human Error with Effective Label Design – Efficient Labeling Concept

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