Chapter Headings

May 28, 2019
One of my stories spans several years and two locations.

At present I have put 'Chapter X.' Followed by sub-heading <Place, month, year.> on the next line down.

I have done this for all chapters regardless if the chapters that follow each other are in the same place and time.

Has anyone else done this and do you do it for all chapters or only add the sub-heading if there is a change in location and/date?

~Asking for a friend 🤣


They call me Z.
Mar 17, 2017
I don't know, but in my opinion unless it's an abrupt change, I would go with chapter 1 etc.


Write well, edit often.
Oct 8, 2012
Has anyone else done this and do you do it for all chapters or only add the sub-heading if there is a change in location and/date?

I did this in two of my books.

In one book I tagged each change of location and/or date within each chapter. The other book just tagged changes in date/time within chapters.

I think it's one of those devices that should be carefully considered before using, because it may not fit in all stories/genres. I initially used date/time stamps in early drafts of my sci-fi novel to help me keep track of the plot. I ended up keeping them in there because it nicely keeps track of time passage for the reader.
Aug 10, 2013
One of my books (sitting in the computer) is a diary, so I included day whatever and date for each entry. Most of them did not make up a chapter on their own.


Senior Member
May 19, 2005
In one fantasy novel I wrote, I put the place and day at the head of each chapter. I never changed locations within a chapter except for flashbacks. If I had several chapters that occurred on the same day, I would include the time of day, not by hour, but as morning, late morning, noon, etc. For that novel, most of the action occurred within a one month period, except for the prologue and epilogue.

In a novelette I wrote that mostly spanned a single day, I included references to the actual hour and minute.
Jan 28, 2023
I do the same thing. One of my novels deals with multiple planets in different time zones, seasons, and space travel times. I think both I and my readers would be a little lost without it but it's complicated and messy to track over multiple characters. I followed the example of one of my favorite books that did the same thing and italicized them two lines above the first. I'm not sure if that is the correct way, but for now, it works. When I get my story edited, I will definitely be asking about that.
May 24, 2017
Genre counts here. Sci fi and mystery are two where time is important. It can be a helpful anchor or an annoying distraction depending on how it is referred to in the body of the chapter. The characters need to interact with the time stamp to make it relevant.

Claire Tucker

Copyeditor and Proofreader
Jan 26, 2018
Another genre where this might be a consideration is thriller/suspense, especially if the time is an important feature of the story.

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