By the Numbers

Knowing how to present numbers in your writing is not a simple matter. There are many rules to follow when writing numbers.

Here are 10 rules to follow.

Spell out single-digit numbers.
Did you hear that Tom had four hits in yesterday’s game?

Use numerals for numbers great than nine.
We had 18 students show up for the discussion group.

Spell out numbers that begin a sentence.
Seventy students will be graduating tomorrow.

Spell out and hyphenate simple fractions.
More than two-thirds of the students are going on the field trip.

Use numerals for mixed fractions.
The cake recipe requires 3 ¼ cups of flour.

Use numerals for dates.
The semester ends June 10 this year.

The semester ends on the 30th of June this year.

Use numerals for decimals. Put a zero in front of the decimal if there is no value in front of the decimal point unless the decimal begins with a 0.
Don’t add more than 1.6 pints of water to the mixture.

We had 0.23 inches or rain last month.

We had .06 inches of rain yesterday.

Use numerals for the time of day when using a.m. or p.m.
My school day begins at 7 a.m.

Spell out the time of day when using “o’clock.”
Don’t forget to come to the three o’clock meeting on Friday.

Be consistent. Don’t mix spelling out numbers and using numerals in the same sentence, even though it seems that you are violating either rule 1 or 2.
There are 8 boys and 14 girls in my class.

or

There are eight boys and fourteen girls in my class.

These are not all of the rules that apply to writing numbers, but they are the ones you will encounter most frequently.

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