Copy Editing Notes

Notes from LAKANA Copy Desk

Notes from Lakana Copy Editing

Put Time on Your Side

Style, grammar and word usage tips from Lakana’s copy editors.
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With the time change almost upon us -- 2 a.m., Sunday, March 11, 2018 -- let’s take a look at some of the most common issues that come up when talking about time in your copy.

daylight saving time: The proper usage is daylight saving time. No “s” and no hyphen.  There are also no caps or hyphens in the traditional instruction “spring forward, fall back.” When you’re referring to specific time zones, use Daylight Time, such as Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Central Daylight Time (CDT), etc.  Fun fact: Hawaii does not observe daylight saving time, so it’s in Hawaii Standard Time.

midnight:  Midnight, according to AP, is part of the day that is ending, not the day that’s beginning.  That’s counterintuitive, since midnight is “a.m.,” but just remember that midnight Friday comes after 11:59 p.m. Friday and you’ll keep it straight.

afternoon, evening, etc.:  These words should almost never appear in your copy outside direct quotes.  For instance, if an alien landing happens at 3:30 p.m., just use that, don’t say “3:30 in the afternoon.”  Exceptions would be general time references, such as “The aliens spent all afternoon collecting humans for their zoo.”

a.m./p.m.: That’s how you write those. No capitalization, and two periods. If they appear at the end of a sentence, you don’t need another period to end the sentence.

yesterday/tomorrow: Avoid these whenever possible. Use exact days of the week, or full dates if the day is further off in the future/past.  “Today” should also be avoided except when you’re writing early in the day.  This also applies to “last night,” “this morning” and other similar references.

sometime/some time: (also someday/some day) Use the one-word form to express an indefinite time in the future. “I’ll become king sometime, but in the interim I’m going to eat these nachos.”  Some time refers to a more definite time period, and can be replaced by a phrase like “a short time” or “a long time”: “I’m going to spend some time eating nachos while wearing a crown.”

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