Is it OK to write time signatures as fractions like this:


instead of


? Is it allowed? If yes, could you show me proof?

  • 2
    What reason would you have for this? In print, it usually looks like 4/4, but on a stave, the '-' will be on the centre line, and probably not seen anyway.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 8:47
  • 2
    It's important to realise that a time signature is not a fraction, but rather two separate numbers which are quoted together: the lower number gives the note duration (minim, crotchet, quaver) and the upper number says how many notes there are in a bar. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 11:14
  • In 20th-century pieces you'll occasionally see time signatures like 1½/4 or 2½/4, which reinforces @No'amNewman's point about the time signature being better thought of as two numbers rather than as a fraction. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 17:39
  • It's not that far removed from a fraction, particularly if you think in American note-names - 3/4 is Three Quarters (of a Whole Note), 6/8 is Six Eighths (of a Whole Note). But we still don't use the fraction line.
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 19:45
  • @LaurencePayne It's very far removed. A measure of 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, ect. are equally whole, they just don't add up to what we call a whole notes. So the fraction comparison only makes sense when you have a measure that equates to a whole note and any other measure the comparison is nonsensical.
    – Dom
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


In music notation, time signatures are written without the fraction line. Apart from anything else, it would get muddled up with the lines of the stave. In text, such as this reply, we write them with a slash, 4/4, 6/8 etc.


You'll occasionally find key signatures like this in music written in and after the twentieth century.

I'm not sure I've ever seen it for a single-staff instrument, but I have seen it for piano music and in full scores. When it's done, the time signature is either written between staves (e.g., in piano music) or stretched across several grouped staves (e.g., the woodwinds in an orchestral setting).

Edit: I thought I had seen slashes in time signatures before, but I'm having trouble finding an example in my own library. Nevertheless, here is an image from the Prelude to Schoenberg's Op. 25, which shows the between-staff time signature I mentioned.

enter image description here

See also this terrific answer that elucidates some "hidden" time signatures in a score much like what I mentioned in my second paragraph. But, again, there is no fraction bar.

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