Writing tip – it’s about time

Today’s article is about time. Whether (like me) you never seem to have enough or whether you have time on your hands, there is a preferred way to write it.

I have read many different ways of writing the time in the novels I have read, but what’s the preferred way? Here are some simple rules to follow:

  • Use numbers rather than writing the word out – for example, 7 instead of seven
    • Unless it’s noon or midnight
  • Use a colon to separate hour from minutes
  • Where the time is on the hour, do not use a double zero.
  • Use a.m. and p.m. always in lower case and always use the period (dot)
  • Do not use “in the afternoon” with p.m. or “in the morning” with a.m. The use of p.m. already informs us it’s the afternoon so writing “in the afternoon” is not necessary
  • Do not use 12 midnight or 12 noon. Midnight and noon are always 12 so it’s not necessary;
  • Consider the use of midnight in your sentence carefully as it can cause confusion. Is “midnight Saturday” the start of Saturday or the end of Saturday? However something like, “the robbery took place on Saturday between 10:15 p.m. and midnight” is fine bcause we can see from context that was Saturday night.
  • If you’re listing several times, there is no need to repeat a.m. or p.m. For example, “Sophie checked the call log. The killer called at 8, 9:30 and 10 p.m.”
  • Do not use dashes instead of “to” or “until”. For example, “Jeremy spent from 9 to 10:20 a.m. on the train” and not “Jeremy spent from 9-10:30 a.m. on the train.

These are examples of the correct way:

8:30 a.m.

8 a.m.


These are incorrect

8:00 a.m.

8 am

8 a.m. in the morning

12 midnight

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