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.