15 August 2017

A matter of time

I recently wrote about the correct way to write dates. Now it’s time to tackle times. However, times are a little trickier, as there are various acceptable ways to write them.

The key is to be consistent with the style you choose to ensure the professionalism of your business writing. Your preferred style of writing the time should be added to your business’s writing style guide.

The modern, visually clean way to write the time is presented in these examples:


Capitals should be avoided (not 9AM or 12.30PM).
No full stops between ‘am’ and ‘pm’ (not 9a.m. or 12.30p.m.).
No colons (not 12:30pm).
Some people prefer a space after the numbers (9 am, 12.30 pm).

As you can see, I choose not to use two zeros to indicate even hours (e.g. 9.00am), unless in a particular situation it looks odd not include them, or impacts on readability or comprehension.

Time spans

To show a time span use an en dash:


To write times spans in prose:

We are open from 7am to 11am.
Lunch is available between 11am and 3pm.

24 hour time

Four digits are always used for 24 hour time. The first two for the hours, the last two for minutes. For example:

0900 hours (9am)
1230 hours (12.30pm)
2020 hours (8.20pm)

If you need help to hone your business writing, or to develop a writing style guide, contact me.

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