A.D. and B.C. refer to dates based on the Gregorian calendar, developed in the 16th century and still in use throughout much of the world today. A.D. is an abbreviation for “Anno Domini,” Latin for “in the year of the lord.” B.C. is an abbreviation for “Before Christ.” However, to provide a more neutral way to reference dates, C.E., an abbreviation for “Common Era,” became popular in the 1980s to replace A.D. B.C.E., an abbreviation for “Before Common Era,” was introduced at the same time to replace B.C.

To B.C. or Not to B.C.

While some academic and research organizations prefer C.E. and B.C.E., others prefer the continued use of A.D. and B.C. For example, the National Geographic Society requires the use of A.D. and B.C. On the contrary, Johns Hopkins University Press requires the use of C.E. and B.C.E. in the Journal of Early Christian Studies. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an example of an institution that allows both A.D. and B.C. or C.E. and B.C.E. in publications.

About the Author

S.R. Haines is a veteran writer whose work has been published by newspapers, magazines, international news wire services and nonprofit publications on topics ranging from breaking news and politics to travel, parenting, education, business and technology. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.