The PHP date() function is used to format a time and/or date.

The PHP Date() Function

The PHP date() function formats a timestamp to a more readable date and time.

A timestamp is a sequence of characters, denoting the date and/or time at which a certain event occurred.

Parameter         Description
format             Required. Specifies the format of the timestamp
timestamp        Optional. Specifies a timestamp. Default is the current date and time

PHP Date() - Format the Date

The required format parameter in the date() function specifies how to format the date/time.

Here are some characters that can be used:

  • d - Represents the day of the month (01 to 31)
  • m - Represents a month (01 to 12)
  • Y - Represents a year (in four digits)

A list of all the characters that can be used in the format parameter, can be found in our PHP Date reference.

Other characters, like"/", ".", or "-" can also be inserted between the letters to add additional formatting:
echo date("Y/m/d") . "<br />";
echo date("Y.m.d") . "<br />";
echo date("Y-m-d")
The output of the code above could be something like this:

PHP Date() - Adding a Timestamp

The optional timestamp parameter in the date() function specifies a timestamp. If you do not specify a timestamp, the current date and time will be used.

The mktime() function returns the Unix timestamp for a date.

The Unix timestamp contains the number of seconds between the Unix Epoch (January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT) and the time specified.

Syntax for mktime()

To go one day in the future we simply add one to the day argument of mktime():
$tomorrow = mktime(0,0,0,date("m"),date("d")+1,date("Y"));
echo "Tomorrow is ".date("Y/m/d", $tomorrow);
The output of the code above could be something like this:
Tomorrow is 2009/05/12

Complete PHP Date Reference

For a complete reference of all date functions, go to our complete PHP Date Reference.

The reference contains a brief description, and examples of use, for each function!