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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


16 Comments

16 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?

  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!

    • Jane says:

      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. Both The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook recommend that years be expressed in numerals unless they stand at the beginning of a sentence. However, I 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

    • Jane says:

      The numbers would be written as follows:
      one hundred fifteen and seventy-five hundredths
      one hundred fifteen and thirty-five hundredths

  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.

    • Jane says:

      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 and spelling out inches, feet, etc. to indicate height, length, and width. I 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 her,” or “At 5 foot 10, he was just 3 inches taller than her.”

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