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  1. #1

    Formal Time Format

    Greetings,

    The Question I Asked: What is the proper format for denoting time in formal writing?
    The Question I Should Have Asked: How does one write out the time for half past the hour?

    {Other drivel deleted}

    The Answers:

    _The Elements of Style_, by William Strunk, Jr. (1918 edition), indicates the formal date is not to be written out, but with numbers. One can easily deduce the same applies to time.

    _Etiquette_, by Emily Post (1942 edition), indicates that they should be written out, however, on a non-wedding RSVP. It also gives an example as "at half after four o'clock".

    Many thanks,
    Steven K. Mariner
    Last edited by marinersk; 26-Nov-2008 at 21:32. Reason: Clarity, Answer


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #2

    Re: Formal Time Format

    Why the reluctance to use Arabic numerals? This is a dinner invitation, not a legal contract.

    Steve Mariner
    accepts with pleasure
    George Burns'
    kind invitation for dinner
    on Thursday 18th December
    at 4.30 p.m.

    PS. Must be a swanky do, this dinner, sending out invites so early! (General note: colloquial speech - contains bad grammar for casual effect.)
    Last edited by David L.; 21-Nov-2008 at 22:08.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #3

    Re: Formal Time Format

    Quote Originally Posted by marinersk View Post
    Greetings,

    What is the proper format for denoting time in formal writing?

    Specifically, I have the proper format for a non-wedding RSVP acceptance as:

    Steve Mariner
    accepts with pleasure
    George Burns's
    kind invitation for dinner
    on Thursday 18th December
    at 5.00 p.m.

    But what if the time of the event is 4:30pm? Some thoughts:

    Half-past four o'clock
    Half Five o'clock
    Thirty minutes past four o'clock
    Four-Thirty

    4.30 p.m.

    But after a few hours searching online (due to a dearth of printed materials at my disposal in my circumstances) I have been unable to find a reference anywhere for the proper format for the time in formal writing for anything other than a top-of-the-hour time.

    So I thought I'd ask the experts.

    Can you help?

    Many thanks,
    Steven K. Mariner
    It really is not necessary to spell these out.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #4

    Re: Formal Time Format

    Ahhh.

    The tenor of your posts is certainly enlightening. Whilst we could bandy authorities on the issue of the apostrophe versus 's issue........

    ....I can well understand your compulsion for exactitude in this matter of your written reply. And certainly, reach out for assistance.

    A word of comment: those at a swank 'do' are there for more reason than having the information you require from this forum flowing in their veins. The import of your posts indicates that, when it comes to 'class', you're going to be out of your depth at this dinner. Aspire, yes.......but that air of superiority will have you crash and burn, as assuredly as the Luftwaffe met the RAF. There's dinner table conversation!
    Last edited by David L.; 22-Nov-2008 at 00:30.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #5

    Re: Formal Time Format

    While the circumstances surrounding my request for this information are certainly inviting targets for fun, and possibly even ridicule, the request for information is earnest and genuine.

    Then respond in kind to 'earnest and genuine' attempts to help.

    A word of comment: long-winded explanations with are no camouflage.
    Frankly my dear, if I were at that dinner table with a couple of drinks under my belt, and a wink from someone else who saw through you, I would thoroughly enjoyed making mincemeat of you.......

    So politely, so politely, so po-lite-ly.
    (G&S, Princess Ida)


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #6

    Re: Formal Time Format

    There's 'class' in the sense of style, elegance, sophistication, taste, refinement, quality, excellence, and a person being "Out of one's class."

    There's 'out-classed' in the sense of 'not being a match for', as in two warships in confrontation.

    So no shortcut for me, and off to the library with me tomorrow.

    There's also discretion.

    (Sorry about that folks, but God, some people...Rile me, and I'll rise to the level of anyone's attempt to lord it - (outcome of said sentiment yet unknown: most puffed up people are bluster, so my assertion is not really fully tested.)
    Last edited by David L.; 22-Nov-2008 at 01:52.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #7

    Re: Formal Time Format

    There is a danger of becoming overborne by "social rules". There is absolutely nothing that says you MUST spell out dates and times. It is totally unnecessary. I very much doubt if using numerals would be noticed by the person receiving the RSVP.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #8

    Re: Formal Time Format

    Quote Originally Posted by marinersk View Post
    Thank you!

    So now we've answered the question of if it is needed; we still haven't answered the question of how it is done. By using numerals.

    Anyone?

    - Steve M.
    ...

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Formal Time Format

    Quote Originally Posted by marinersk View Post
    I agree.



    Again, I agree.

    I do appreciate the input.

    - Steve M.
    I don't see why someone can't just tell you it's "Half past Four" and be done with it.

  3. #10

    Re: Formal Time Format

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I don't see why someone can't just tell you it's "Half past Four" and be done with it.
    That's okay. Everybody has their triggers; apparently I found David's.

    But I have references now in case anyone does look up this thread in the future.

    _The Elements of Style_, by William Strunk, Jr. (1918 edition), indicates the formal date is not to be written out, but with numbers. One can easily deduce the same applies to time.

    _Etiquette_, by Emily Post (1942 edition), indicates that they should be written out, however, on a non-wedding RSVP. It also gives an example as "at half after four o'clock".

    So there you have it.

    - Steve M.

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