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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (December 10, 2007)

What's My Number?

Often, we need to use numbers in our writing. As a teacher, I've lost count of the number of times I've had to make corrections to my students' use of numbers.

Here are a few handy rules to follow:

1. Spell numbers smaller than ten out in letters. Otherwise, you risk sounding too informal. This is the accepted rule for all writing.

2. Don't start a sentence with a number (unless it is spelled out). If you need to, rewrite the sentence to make a larger number appear in the middle.

3. Other rules are less defined. Some say to write out in letters any one-word number such as twenty and to use numerals for 24. Others say to use numerals for numbers 11 and larger.

4. Don't put two numerals side by side in a sentence. Say, we saw ten 16-year-olds coming towards us.

5. For recipes, it is okay to write your small numbers as numerals. The recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, for example.


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