Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grammar Day – Writing Numbers

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.

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