10 Guidelines for Writing Numerals & Numbers

As a writer, you should know how to properly write out or display actual numbers and when it is the right time to do so. Often times, people can easily get these confused. In this article, I will demonstrate the proper placement of both, numerals and numbers. Are you ready to learn? Here we go!

1. The Difference Between a Numeral and a Number:

A numeral is the symbol used to express the number, while the number of something is an abstract concept. For instance, the number 4 can be expressed as the numerals “4,” “IV” or “four.” Similarly, the difference between a number and a numeral is like the difference between a person and what you write down their name as.

2. Small numbers = spelling:

Whole numbers that is smaller than ten should always be spelled out, i.e. seven, eight, nine, ten, and 11. This rule is one that you can always count on to be true, while other number rules can vary person to person. The reason for spelling out small numbers is that is looks more professional. It is as simple as that.

3. There are NO standards:

Yikes, right? Experts all over have a hard time coming to one conclusion about how to write out numbers and which ones are writer worthy. Some agree that all one-word numbers should be written out, while two-word numbers should be expressed with numerals. This implies that you should write “eleven” and “thirty” but not 44.

4. The Comma:

Commas are really essential to breaking up numbers in content, i.e. “Alaska consumer 571,951 square miles” instead of “Alaska is 571951.” Also, where decimals are concerned, periods are used to break up those numbers. However, in other countries, the comma and period are opposite when using them in numeral expressions. According to International Systems of Units, (SI) they suggest adding a space between large numbers, i.e. $14 300,89. This part is left up to you to decide.

5. Never begin with a Numeral:

Your sentences should never start with a numeral. Instead, if you were using “1,000 copies were sold today,” you would write, “Consumers bought 1,000 copies today.”

6. Decades, Centuries, etc. should be spelled out:

Just as the tip suggests, eighteenth century and the nineties, should be spelled out!

7. Recipes and Percentages:

With recipes and everyday writing, you should use digits. For example, “Add 2 cups of milk” or “5% of adults.” However, when it comes to formal writing structures, you need to spell out the percentage, i.e. “11 percent of adults,” (or “eleven percent of adults,” according to your preference as explained in tip three.)

8. If you’re using an estimated or rounded number, spell it:

Numbers that are over a million and that are rounded up should be spelled out, like this: “Over 50 million people like bananas” instead of “Over 50,000,000 people like bananas.” Of course, if you’re using an exact number, you must spell it out.

9. Number that are beside each other:

If you saw “9 14-year-olds,” that would look confusing, right? Instead, to avoid confusion, write “nine 14-year-olds.” A rule for this is to pick the number that has the smallest amount of letters.

10. Consistency and Ordinal Numbers:

When writing, you should avoid expressing, “He was my 1st Pet” and instead use, “He was my first pet.”  You should also keep it consistent throughout your writing.

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