Welcome to Grammar Day at Seriously Write. Do you ever wonder whether you should use a numeral or spell out the number? Today, we’re going to look at rules and examples that will hopefully alleviate some confusion.
Rule 1: In books, spell out whole numbers one through one hundred, as well as round numbers.
Examples: I would like three copies.
I would like one hundred copies.
I would like 101 copies.
In articles, spell out whole numbers below 10; use numbers for 10 and above.
Examples: There are nine people on the team.
There will be 12 people on the team.
Rule 2: Be consistent within a category.
Examples: Out of 10 apples, I found 2 rotten ones.
Out of ten apples, I found two rotten ones.
Rule 3: If you have numbers in different categories, use numerals for one category and spell out the other.
Examples: It takes 7 peaches to make one pie and 12 apples to
make two pies.
I purchased 15 tickets for my seven employees.
I have 10 toes but only two feet.
Rule 4: Spell out simple fractions and use hyphens with them.
Examples: One-half of the casserole was eaten.
A two-thirds majority is required for that bill to pass.
Rule 5: A mixed fraction can be expressed in figures unless it’s the first word in a sentence.
Examples: He cranked the wheel around 5 ½ times.
Five and one-half pieces of cake were left.
Rule 6: Write decimals in figures. Put a zero in front of a decimal unless the decimal itself begins with a zero.
Examples: He moved the hook 0.55 inches to the right.
Then he moved it .09 inches to the left.
Rule 7: Never start a sentence with a numeral.
Correct: They sold 124 hotdogs.
Correct: One hundred twenty-four hotdogs were sold.
Incorrect: 124 hotdogs were sold.
Rule 8: If you’re writing out decades with incomplete numerals, put an apostrophe before the incomplete numeral, but not between the year and the s.
Correct: Do you prefer music from the ’80s or the ’90s?
Incorrect: Do you prefer music from the ’80’s or the ’90’s?
The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook were used as references.