History is big. Very big. This is why we have the terms \u201cBC\u201d and \u201cAD,\u201d as well as \u201cBCE\u201d and \u201cCE,\u201d which help us keep track of what happened when. But how exactly do these terms work? And which of BC\u2013AD or BCE\u2013CE should you use in your written work? Let\u2019s find out!\nBC and AD\n[caption id="attachment_4727" align="alignright" width="256"] The "Bede" being venerable.[\/caption]\n\nBC stands for \u201cbefore Christ.\u201d AD is short for the Latin term \u201canno Domini,\u201d which means \u201cin the year of the Lord.\u201d They came into use thanks to two monks: Dionysius Exiguus (who coined the term \u201canno Domini\u201d) and the Venerable Bede (who popularized it).\n\nThey were originally invented to calculate the correct date of Easter, with AD 1 being the first year after Jesus was born. Today, historians use these terms to denote dates before (BC) and after (AD) the start of the Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar we still use today!\n\nThe correct positioning for each of these terms is different. BC goes after the date:\nJulius Caesar was killed in 44 BC.\nBut AD goes before the date:\nThe Woodland period continued until around AD 1,000.\nKeep in mind that BC involves counting backwards from 1 (so 44 BC is 44 years before 1 BC), while AD involves counting forwards (so AD 1,000 is 1,000 years after AD 1).\nBCE and CE\nBCE stands for \u201cbefore common era.\u201d CE stands for \u201ccommon era.\u201d What is the common era? It\u2019s exactly the same as the time period covered by AD! It therefore includes everything since the start of the Gregorian calendar, whereas BCE covers everything before then.\n\nThese terms, then, work in exactly the same way as BC and AD. They were simply designed as a secular alternative. In practice, the only difference is that both go after the date:\nJulius Caesar was killed in 44 BCE.\nThe Woodland period continued until around 1,000 CE.\nThis does at least make it easier to remember the positioning for each term!\nWhich Is Correct?\nBoth! Sorry, not a very helpful answer, but it is true. As explained above, they work in essentially the same way, so the choice between them is largely a matter of preference.\n\nYou may want to check your style guide if you have one available, since some colleges and publishers prefer one system over the other. And BCE\u2013CE is sometimes considered more modern.\n\nIf we had to choose, we\u2019d say that BCE\u2013CE is better because the positioning is simpler. But ultimately, it is up to you! The important thing is to pick one system and use it consistently throughout your document. Having your work proofread will make sure this is the case.