Writing Numbers as Both Numerals and Words



Many readers have asked me why people write numbers this way:

Example: We will need 220 (two hundred twenty) chairs.

While it is often unnecessary to have both numerals and words for the same number, and can come off as pretentious, there are two reasons for using both:

1. You are more likely to make an error when typing a numeral than when typing a word AND much less likely to spot the error when proofreading.

2. If your document is dense, has a lot of numbers, or contains large numbers, the numerical form helps your readers scan information quickly.

So by typing a combination of a numeral and a word, you are almost guaranteed accuracy and ease of reading.

 

Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010, at 2:13 pm

38 Comments on Writing Numbers as Both Numerals and Words

38 responses to “Writing Numbers as Both Numerals and Words”

  1. angelique says:

    I have 2 questions.

    #1 What is the proper way to write the sentance below?

    Jane Doe worked for me as a HR Coordinator for approximately 1.5 years.

    or

    Jane Doe worked for me as a HR Coordinator for approximately one and half years.

    #2 Should I put a or an in front of HR?

    • Jane Doe worked for me as an HR coordinator for approximately one and a half years or 1½ years. These are more usual than 1.5 years. Whether to use numbers or words is up to the writer, editor, or publisher.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I’ve always heard that you should not use the word “and” when writing out a number. For example, 150 should be written “one hundred fifty” and not “one hundred and fifty”.

    Hardly anyone seems to know this. I recently received a wedding invitation with 2011 written out as “two thousand and eleven”.

    I’d like to know once and for all if I am correct. Thank you!

    • Yes, you are correct. The word “and” should not be included (one hundred fifty). The year 2011 may be written out “two thousand eleven” or “twenty eleven” if written out at all. However, we understand that some people like to write the year out in a formal invitation.

  3. Rajendra Vasant Gujare says:

    My boss always insist me to write Rs. 12.0 Crore instead of
    Rs. 12.0 Crores
    Please tell me which is grammatically correct.

  4. dusan says:

    hello, Jane, if it is possible to write small numbers in words, is it also possible to write number of pages in words? (on page 8 vs. on page eight)

    • Jane says:

      It is possible, but not recommended. The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule says, “Numbers referring to pages, chapters, parts, volumes, and other divisions of a book, as well as numbers referring to illustrations or tables, are set as numerals.”

  5. mark says:

    hello, I’d like to ask if it is possible to write number of pages in words when they are small numbers (on page 8 vs. on page eight). thank you

    • Jane says:

      It is possible, but not recommended. The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule says, “Numbers referring to pages, chapters, parts, volumes, and other divisions of a book, as well as numbers referring to illustrations or tables, are set as numerals.”

  6. Veronica says:

    Must a sentence always start numbers spelled out even if it’s a large number, or with decimals, such as: 45.12 or $3,423,234.21 ?

    • Jane says:

      Always write out a number if it begins a sentence. If the number is cumbersome, rewrite your sentence. For example, rather than writing “Forty-five dollars and twelve cents is what I still owe him” write “I still owe him $45.12.”

  7. alicia says:

    how do you spell 115.75,and

    115.35

    thank you

  8. Karen says:

    When writing a story, how would you say someone’s height? Would it be His 5’10” height was just three inches taller than her. Or would you say, His five feet ten height was just three inches taller than her.

    • Our blog Hyphens with Numbers says, “When you’re combining two or more words to form a compound adjective in front of a noun, put hyphens between these words.”

      There are conflicting views on whether to use numerals. The Chicago Manual of Style says, ” Write “five feet two inches tall,” “five feet two inches,” “five foot two,” and so forth. AP Stylebook advises using figures to indicate height, length, and width. We recommend choosing a style and being consistent.

      You could write either “His five-foot-ten-inch height was just three inches taller than her height,” or “His 5-foot-10-inch height was just 3 inches taller than her height.” The problem with that is the repetition of the word height. A better choice would be “At five foot ten, he was just three inches taller than she was,” or “At 5 foot 10, he was just 3 inches taller than she was.”

  9. rishikesh says:

    hi, I am in Doha Qatar I have seen a very common mistake ,,here people says one fifty riyal(QR) for 1.5(QR) is it correct or should be one and half or one point five.
    if they should say one and half then what should say if there is 150 riyal..very common one fifty// is it correct

  10. Anastasia says:

    how do you write 8:27 in words

  11. Melodie says:

    Would this be correct wording for an 8th grade diploma? “Dated this twenty-sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord, Two thousand sixteen.” Should “Two” be capitalized? Should there be a comma after “thousand”? Thanks.

    • There is no reason to capitalize two or place a comma after thousand. We would not necessarily use commas to set off the phrase “in the year of our Lord,” however,
      special documents often follow their own rules.

  12. James Hindle says:

    Can you tell me which is correct for a book cover title?
    Nineteen Sixty-Three or Nineteen Sixty Three

  13. Charlotte says:

    Hello,

    I need help to figure out how to write 1 150 030 in words. Is it ‘ one million, hundred fifty thousand, thirty’? Or is it some other answer.

  14. Rizza Paduelan says:

    hi
    I am confused how do i write “32 is what percent of 80?” Do I have to use “is” after the number or am I going to use “are”?

  15. Adam says:

    The Style Manual advises to write the words for numbers one to nine. Does that mean 1.5 should be written one and a half? (there was a question similar above but it wasn’t clear to me, for this context anyway).

  16. Jackie Fiore says:

    Hi, how should I write out, “She is 103 years old”? Thank you!

  17. Terri says:

    In legal writing, we use the word format followed by the numeric format in parenthesis. When a hyphen is involved, would you only include that after the parenthesis or before the parenthesis. Or would you omit the hyphen?
    Example: Enter your time in ten (10)-minute increments.
    OR
    Enter your time in ten- (10) minute increments.

    • None of the style guides we consulted address this issue. Since legal documents have their own set of rules, we recommend consulting a legal style manual. However, if we were forced to take a guess at how this should be expressed, we would lean toward a format that is simple to understand. If you are required to always spell out numbers then follow with digits, our preference would be Enter your time in ten-minute (10-minute) increments.

  18. Karen says:

    Do you say 22+ years or 22 plus years

    • We do not recommend using the mathematical plus sign in that manner in formal writing. To avoid confusion, we recommend writing 22-plus years, or, depending on the context, over 22 years.

  19. Yvette B. says:

    Can you still use numerals for ease of reading comprehension in certain instances where the sentence is proceeding at a very rapid clip? (Ex. You’re functioning on less than 5 hours [sleep]?!”)

    Thanks in advance!

    Yvette B.

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