Style for typing a.m. and p.m.

I keep getting copy submitted to me in which a.m. and p.m. are typed without a space after the hour and no punctuation, e.g. 9:00am

Does this represent the adoption of a particular style (like using the European conventions for dates and telephone numbers)? It annoys me both on an aesthetic level and because I have to clean up the copy. However, I will aquiesce if this is something other than laziness or ignorance.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Certainly it may be the style for a particular publication; I know that I was the copy editor for my college student newspaper and defined the style for times as 9am (as opposed to 9:00am or 9 A.M. or any of the other variations). However, if this does not meet the style at your publication, inform the writer so that they can make the change. (Or set up a macro on your software to change it automatically.)

Yes I a.m. thinking that macro is a good idea.

Ignorance of house style, maybe, but there’s nothing in English that specifies am and pm should be capitalized or punctuated in a certain way in general.

Sure there is. The problem is that there are lots of things that say that. The OED, AP style guide and MLA prefer “a.m.” The Chicago Manual of Style uses small caps with no periods, or lowercase with periods if small caps are unavailable. I couldn’t find any format for time at all in Strunk & White. I don’t have a copy of Fowler’s Modern English Usage, but I assume its preferred format is the same as the OED (since both come from the Oxford University Press). The Bluebook uses “AM”.

I didn’t find any style guides which recommend the format in the OP, so it’s laziness or ignorance. Nobody can tell you which form you must use, but it should at least be one that somebody else uses.

Yeah, all style guides where someone sat down and said, for good or ill, this is how we’re going to do it. Nothing about english itself as a language specifies how am and pm should be written.

Right. I’m just saying the people discussed in the OP are lazy.

Well, I agree that if they’re creating copy for freckafree, they should be using the same style as her but I refuse to countenance the idea that typing 9am instead of 9 a.m. or 9 PM is somehow fundamentally lazy.

My copy of the OED (published in 1933) has “A.M.” The supplement (published in 1972) offers the choice “A.M., a.m.”

The third edition of Fowler, edited by R.W. Burchfield and published in 1996, has:

What’s most important is consistency in style within a piece of work. You don’t want to see 3:30 PM in one place and 5:45p in another.

Where space is a premium, the no-space and no-periods and no-caps is often used, especially with just one initial, so…

9:30p or 9:30pm

Since this is my thread, I don’t feel bad about hijacking it.

This same person finds hyphens anathema. Is this a trend or an idiosyncrasy?

Both? I, think, in general, people are coming to avoid hyphens. I personally tend toward avoiding them. I don’t see hi-jinks as being obviously preferable to hijinks and when it comes to splitting at the end of a line, I’d rather it be done right or not at all.

As some sage has said, The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

As for optional(?) hyphens, I’m seeing it much more of-ten in on-line discussions by employees about their cow workers.
Dreaming of apples on a wall,
And dreaming often, dear.
I dreamed that, if I counted all,
How many would appear?
[indent][indent]-- Lewis Carroll[/indent][/indent]


In hope Qin Shi Huangdi doesn’t see this thread.

There’s a general trend away from using full stops (periods) in abbreviations, especially in British usage. To British eyes it looks rather fussy and old-fashioned, like writing “to-day” and “to-morrow”.

British newspapers typically use the style “9.30am”.

I’ve been moving away from periods and hyphens in my own writing for some time now, partially encouraged by that trend. I’m in the US and I feel we’re lagging the UK while still following the same path.

The only problem is stalwarts like the OP. Get with the program, frecka! :slight_smile:

Just say what you really mean, DrCube. “Stalwarts” = “Dinosaur.” :slight_smile:

Seriously, though…what’s the problem with hyphens at the end of lines? (Hyphenated words is a whole 'nuther.)