Searchable Documents and Times

Margie Wakeman Wells Numbers 6 Comments

We are in the era of “searchable” documents. An attorney looking for the time of day is not likely to put in “ten” or “four” in his search. The English rules of the 1990s for times don’t work anymore. It is correct that English says to put the number into words with the word “o’clock.” We have moved beyond that rule.

…He arrived at ten o’clock. (…the way it was done in the last century…)

The rule that “:00” means “o’clock” is just not applicable to the verbatim record and probably isn’t a formal rule anyway.
The conclusion: Times on the hour should be expressed with “:00.” If you are writing “verbatim,” then transcribe the word “o’clock” when it is said.

…He said they would be here at 4:00.
…I know it was getting close to 3:00 A.M.

…She arrived at 11:00 o’clock. (…when the word “o’clock” is said…)
Happy punctuating!

Comments 6

  1. Margie, a question.

    What if they talk about ten to seven, meaning ten minutes to seven o’clock? Is that all in words or is it now preferable now to do 10 to 7:00?


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  2. 7 o’clock in the evening (morning, afternoon), because the colon and zeros are redundant with o’clock. I think this is a matter of style, I use APA/Chicago. 1 hr 34 min (no periods after either time abbreviation; 7:00 a.m./p.m.

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      The periods after “A.M./P.M.” are no doubt going away.

      I would maintain that, in the era of searchable documents, times need to be transcribed with the colon and ciphers.

      Have a good day.


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