I have a presentation that will go from August 4th to the 5th. On my title slide I'd like to list the dates in the most concise and simple way possible. What's the best style?

I currently have:

August 4 and 5, 2011

I could also do:

August 4 & 5, 2011

Is there a "correct" way to write this?

  • This is often called a date range. Aug 31 '11 at 8:22

I never use ampersands in copy unless they're part of a proper company name (e.g., Johnson & Johnson). It just looks lazy to me. I would write it as "August 4–5," because the presentation is taking place on two consecutive days. (Nobody assumes it's a 48-hour presentation.)

I would use "and" if the dates are not contiguous: "The concerts will be held on August 4 and 6."

If you were asking this on Graphic Design SE, you could argue that you could use an ampersand as a design element, or to save room if space is at a premium. But for a slide title? No.

  • It is especially true when writing slide titles (as opposed to, say, prose) that cutting the number of glyphs can substantially increase a slide's effectiveness. While I think the use of the em dash is good in this particular case, I think the general suggestion to avoid ampersands in slide titles is bad - impossible though it is for me to believe this of the impeccable Lauren. For some reason, many publishers seem reluctant to use ampersands in the titles on book spines, even when it solves obvious typesetting issues. Aug 31 '11 at 8:21
  • @Charles, thank you for the kind words. :) I can see your point that "fewer characters means the remaining ones have more impact," but we're talking three vs. one, not twelve vs. two (or one vs. one in the case of the en-dash). As far as book spines, speaking as a typesetter, I would be in trouble if I arbitrarily changed my client's copy from "and" to "&" rather than make design changes. Aug 31 '11 at 11:23

Either of those is fine ("&" is just another way to write "and") and will be understood. Another formulation you'll sometimes see is "Aug 4-5, 2011", but this is better for things that are continuous, like a convention. I assume your presentation will be in two parts, one on Aug 4 and the other on Aug 5, and that in between you'll be doing other stuff (eating, socializing, sleeping...).

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