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Night & Day
Proper Use of
A.M. and P.M.
Although we don't use them often when speaking, the
terms "A.M." and "P.M." occur frequently in written
text. Although there are several different rules that can be followed when
using these designations, the most important point to remember is to be consistent
throughout your publication. The following are some guidelines:
Each of these is an acceptable form of use:
A.M. and P.M.
AM and PM
a.m. and p.m. (generally, the most popular form)
am and pm (not used as often)
Take care when using the last type of formatting, as it can make your
text less readable. The key point, again, is to be consistent. Mixing
formats can make your reader stumble and makes your publication's
design look cluttered and unprofessional. Also, there should always be
a space between the numbers and the A.M. or P.M. designation.
for "ante meridiem," which is Latin for before the midday.
"P.M." stands for "post meridiem," or after the
midday. So any time before noon is designated as "A.M." A
time after noon is a "P.M." time. But what about noon and
midnight? Technically speaking, one second after noon is just
that--after noon. So 12:00 noon can be labeled at 12:00 P.M. Likewise,
midnight can be designated as 12:00 A.M. But it is just as acceptable
to use "12:00 noon" and "12:00 midnight."
If you are including
several times that include before and after noon times, be sure to
label each appropriately. For example, this is an acceptable use of
these qualifiers: "I had to catch a plane at 1:45 P.M., so I had
to leave my house at 11:00 A.M." If you are listing several
times, only include the qualifiers for each group. For example,
"My day is booked. I have appointments at 9 and 10:30 A.M. and
then at 1, 3, and 4:30 P.M."
- It is optional to include the zeros in the time if it
is exactly on the hours. For example, either 4 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. is
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