Pearson Adult Learning Centre HomePearson Adult Learning Centre: Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde



Stylish Numbers: Writing with Numerals

Here’s one teachers correct all the time: the use and misuse of numbers when writing in English prose. The rule I follow (and other teachers at the PALC as well) is to have students write out numbers from one to ten. From 11 onward, write out the digits instead.

Oh, and if you have the notion to insert a numeral to begin a sentence, don’t! That can lead to obvious confusions, especially if your sentence is part of a numbered list.

Note that the Chicago Manual of Style suggests that we write out all numbers from one through one hundred, however. Certainly, it wouldn’t be seen as wrong as the key problem is students who fail to spell out numbers under ten in my experience.

Lastly, beware of hyphenated numbers in your writing. For a compound that modifies a noun do as follows: 100-foot cliff versus the cliff was 100 feet high.

(January 1, 2012)

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