Do you have doubts concerning using numerals vs. spelling out numbers while writing a formal paper? You may be shocked how many different rules of putting down numbers exist in formal writing. As far as an essay as well as any other academic paper is considered a formal writing, follow this brief guideline to get acquainted with these requirements.
Depending on the country of your origin and its traditions, certain rules should be applied. However, even such distinguished writer’s manuals as The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style contradict each other. The first book claims the numbers one through nine should be written down in full, while numerals (a.k.a. figures) go thereafter; another insists on spelling numbers up to ninety-nine. The second approach is more inconvenient, of course. That’s why in most cases The Associated Press Stylebook guidelines are obeyed.
Frankly speaking, there is no universal consistency towards this issue. So, let’s have a look at various media suggestions.
- It is critical to spell out numbers only at the beginning of a sentence.
Example: Thirty-six innocent sacrifices were hospitalized after that horrible fire.
The exception exists only for dates: 1939 was a year for World War II to begin.
- Put a dash each time a compound number ranged twenty-one through ninety-nine is used.
Example: Twenty-three people were injured last week.
- The same rule as above is suitable for all written-out fractions.
One-half of the respondents preferred “Coke” to “Fanta”, “Pepsi”, and “Sprite”.
- Four or more digits numbers should include a comma. No matter how many digits you need to insert, count three spaces from the right to place a comma. Each time you can count three spaces, put another comma. Note: whenever you deal with the decimal number, put a dot just before the decimals. Don’t use margins after the commas or decimal points.
Examples: $24,000,020.50 were earned during this month.
2,200 people attended that event.
- Don’t bother applying decimal point or a currency sign to the amounts less than one dollar.
Example: We had only eighty cents to live a day.
We had only 90 cents, so we couldn’t afford it.
Despite writing “We had $0.60 per day” is not strictly forbidden, follow the recommendation above.
- Try to specify whether you’re talking about noon or midnight instead of simply writing 12:00 PM or 12:00 AM.
Examples: 7 AM
The spaces can be excluded.
- On the whole, the usage of figures for time concretization is becoming more widely accepted.
Examples: My flight to Paris leaves at 5:33 a.m.
The appointment was delayed to 13.00 sharp.
- Express mixed fractions in numerals. If they begin a sentence, spell out in full.
Examples: The company’s CEO expected a 5 ½ percent net income increase.
Five and one-half percent was the forecasted positive change in net income.
- Large numbers have to be expressed in a simple way despite they may sound confusing.
Example: eleven hundred dogs (instead of saying one thousand one hundred dogs).
Big round numbers are usually written down in full, but be consistent within a sentence.
Example: Our strategic partners and investors are able to earn from two million to four million dollars annually. (Consistent approach)
This year, our partners can make from $2 million to six million dollars. (Inconsistent)
- Decimal numbers are only to be put in numerals. Most of the professional writers insert a zero in front of the decimal point.
Example: Hairdressing premise grew 0.7 inches this month.
- Three or more digit numbers do not require the usage of “and”. This union should be applied to any decimal points accompanying these numbers.
Examples: two thousand four hundred fifty-nine euros and thirty-one cents.
Twenty-four hundred fifty-nine euros and thirty-one cents.
- What about figures usage for expressing particular period?
Examples: the 12th of September, 1989
July 29, 1954 (no –th crucial)
- Do not capitalize decades! It is recommended to imply an apostrophe before the incomplete figure. Avoid apostrophe between the number and “s” letter.
Examples: During the seventieth and eighties, rock music reached its peak of development.
During the 70’s and 80’s.
During the ’70s and ’80s.