Writing rules - spelling out numbers

Rules for writing numbers: Spelling out numbers

In nontechnical texts, numbers usually attract special attention. Good writers must follow a number of rules to make sure that numbers are spelled and written correctly. In nontechnical texts only whole numbers from one to hundred are spelled out. Other numbers to be spelled out in nontechnical texts include round numbers. Any number put at the very beginning of the sentence should be spelled out. For other numbers, make sure to use numerals.

How to spell out numbers in nontechnical texts:

  1. Spell out round numbers, since they are imprecise by nature and need to be spelled out, to create a clear meaning in the sentence.
  2. Write out numbers when they are put at the beginning of the sentence; this is how you can avoid confusion in sentence meanings.
  3. When more than one number describes one thing, do not mix spelled out numbers and numerals; use only one way to describe numbers.
  4. Compound numbers should be spelled out. All written forms of fractions and compound numerals from twenty-one to ninety-nine should be spelled out in the sentence.
  5. Centuries should be spelled out. Use lower-case letters to spell out centuries, and use hyphens when compound numbers are used to indicate centuries.

Numerals should be used in the following cases:

  1. For numbers 10 and more, as well as numbers below 10 but grouped with numbers from 10 and higher, use numerals. For example, he has a lunch between 8 and 10 o’clock in the morning.
  2. When it comes to exact statistical measures, sample sizes, scores and sums, use only numerals! For example, 10% of the target sample did not pass the test.
  3. All physical measures that are included in the International System of Units should be expressed through numerals.

When you want to use numerals in a plural form, do not use an apostrophe but simply add an s, for example, the 1940s.

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