Understanding the 24-hour Time Format on Day Trading Charts

In the U.S. at least, the everyday person does not often encounter the 24-hour time format or “military time” as it’s sometimes called. New traders often encounter the 24-hour format when looking at charts. To assist with understanding, we’ve written this little guide.

Unfortunately, many trading platforms (NinjaTrader included) do not provide charts with regular time. You’re stuck looking at the 24-hour format.

Therefore, to make sense of a chart, you have to do some mental math and memorization until you automatically know what you’re looking at. Here are some tips for understanding the 24-hour time format:

• From 1 a.m. to noon regular time, the 24-hour time format is the same, so no conversion is needed. For example, 1:00 a.m. is 01:00 on a NinjaTrader chart. Likewise, 9:00 a.m. is 09:00 and 12:00 p.m. is 12:00.

• Now, your brainpower is needed to make sense of the following. Once 1:00 p.m. occurs, the time is 13:00. See what we did there? We did +1 from 12:00 p.m., the last “normal” representation of time. Continuing, if we needed to figure out what two hours after 12 p.m. is (2 p.m.), we would do 12 p.m. + 2 = 14:00. The minutes stay the same, by the way.

• Well, what about figuring out the normal time from 24-hour time? Well, you would only need to labor your brain with this if the time is after 12 p.m. and before 1 a.m., right? So, to continue, you would subtract 12 from the 24-hour time to get the regular time. For example, 13:00 – 12 = 1:00 p.m. regular time. Another example: 23:30 – 12 = 11:30 p.m. regular time. Remember, the minutes stay the same.

• On some 24-hour clocks and perhaps NinjaTrader charts, you may see either 00:00 or 24:00 representing midnight. However, once a second rolls past the midnight hour, the time will start with “00”. For example, 00:00:01 is  12:00:01 a.m. regular time.

• Again, minutes (and seconds) behave the same in both time formats. Count up to to 59 seconds, and a new minute begins with the next second.

• If you need to convert a time zone to local time, you will still add or subtract the time zone difference between your time zone to the other geographical region. Not much changes. After your time zone conversion math is done, use the concepts described above to change the format to 24-hour or regular time.

If you want to get used to the 24-hour time faster, consider using a wristwatch that also has 24-hour times listed or adjust your smartphone’s time display. This will help reinforce your understanding, as you are sort of forcing your brain to adapt.

This conversion website and the following reference pictures may further help your understanding.

For more helpful NinjaTrader information (common mistakes, maintenance things, etc.), check out this important reference page.

NinjaTrader Chart 24-Hour Time Format

24-Hour Charting Clock

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