Why are calendar grids always exactly 5 rows high?

dumpling's picture

Where, when, and how was it decided that a calendar grid should always have exactly five rows, even where logic would seem to dictate six rows?

Why is this convention used even on wall calendars which clearly have space for a sixth row, even if this would mean decreasing space used for a "notes" section or pithy quotes or some such? Note that only a partial sixth row is ever needed.

Even if for some reason it is forbidden to use a sixth row, why use "23/30" and/or "24/31", thus cramming five characters into a single cell? Why not instead use "1/8" and/or "2/9"?

JamesM's picture

I assume you're talking about printed calendars, as I think computer calendars generally have 6 rows when appropriate. At least the one I use (iCal) does.

I've designed a few printed calendars and have always used 5 rows max because if you had 6 rows the top and bottom rows would be mostly blank, plus all the rows become smaller in height, leaving less room for people to write notes.

I've never had a client complain about doubling some dates, but they'll complain if the cells are too small.

Not sure why the tradition is to double up on the last row (such as "24/31"), but I assume it's because doubling would often occur just on a Sunday when people probably have fewer appointments to jot down, plus (and maybe this is the main reason) it's less obvious than doubling on the top row.

washishu's picture

I think, Dumpling, you've answered your own question. Many, many years ago I was required each year to hand-set in 6-line wood letter the kind of wall calendars I'm sure you are referring to. We produced them for a number of local companies who handed them out to their customers. They were created on a seven by five grid and printed on a Heidelberg 10x15 platen press. A seven by six grid would, as you state, mean that the sixth row would be only partially used.

Although these calendars didn't have note-making space, our customers liked them for the large numerals; six rows would have meant smaller numerals.

As to why the doubling is on the last week rather than the first, JamesM's explanation is a good as any. Also, maybe, the 1/8 solution you suggest is similar to 18 whereas a 23/30 (as would occur this September) is much more obvious as two dates.

It is, as you say yourself, the convention. It's what we're used to and so needs a good reason to change. I recognise that you ask where did it come from and why and I suspect it was simply a straightforward compromise which is now the custom and practice through continued use.

dumpling's picture

No, it's possible:

     JUNE 2013    Sa
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr  1
 2  3  4  5  6  7  8
 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30

---
But what I meant was, why use this:

      JUNE 2013
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                   1
 2  3  4  5  6  7  8
 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
%% 24 25 26 27 28 29
[ SPACE FOR NOTES  ]

instead of this:

      JUNE 2013
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                   1
 2  3  4  5  6  7  8
 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 [SPACE FOR NOTES]

which works much, much better, considering the primary function of a calendar.

dumpling's picture

Also, maybe, the 1/8 solution you suggest is similar to 18 whereas a 23/30 (as would occur this September) is much more obvious as two dates.

For 1/8 you could use a fraction form! Maybe I'll try that sometime. Once I crammed a 1 and an 8 together (vertically) when space was tight and I thought 23/30 would look too mashed up.

Also, I see by your "this September" remark that you are using weeks beginning on Monday.

   SEPTEMBER 2013             SEPTEMBER 2013
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa       Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7        2  3  4  5  6  7  ⅛
 8  9 10 11 12 13 14        9 10 11 12 13 14 15
15 16 17 18 19 20 21       16 17 18 19 20 21 22
22 23 24 25 26 27 28       23 24 25 26 27 28 29
29 30                      30
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