Timelapse, time-lapse or time lapse?

Surely the Eternal Question of the industry?

Every week someone asks us this question. Sometimes we see emails with all three versions in the same paragraph. So let’s settle this once and for all.

I started with Google. A simple search gives us 178 million for time-lapse, 133 million for timelapse and a pathetic 68 million for time lapse. But hey, not a very sophisticated test.  Next we went to Google trends? Surely this mega-application will have the answers? Hmmm not so much. The order is completely reversed. Time lapse is the clear winner. Odd that.

Time-lapse Solutions blog

Who believes everything Google says anyway?

What about a dictionary? We believe them surely. Perhaps Merriam Webster? No record for timelapse or time lapse. But for time-lapse we have this:

Time-lapse Solutions blog

1927 you say? Amazing.

However, eventually I found something I could believe in. Quora. Or more specifically – Ken Collins. And I am very grateful to him for this explanation.

The general rule in the Chicago Manual of Style is that a phrase is hyphenated when it is used as an adjective:

a high level platform (two adjectives, thus a tree house)
a high-level platform (a noun phrase, thus a programming language)
the house has two stories
a two-story house
a high school student (a school student on drugs)
a high-school student (a student in high school)


there was a time lapse in class (don’t know when you’d say this)
we learned time-lapse photography in class

Most people leave out the hyphen, but it makes writing much clearer.

And who am I to argue with the great man? And it simply looks so much better with the hyphen. So from here on in at Time-lapse Solutions, the official spelling will now be time-lapse. And that feels so good now it is finally settled.

If you would like a quotation for a time-lapse, timelapse or even a time lapse project whatever the size or if you just want to discuss the possibilities, please give us a call on 0203 174 2575 or email us at info@solutions.co.uk.

We want to help as much as we can. And, actually, we really don’t care that much how time-lapse is spelt.