English has many rules for writing numbers and just as many authorities disagreeing with each other about them. Here are some general rules that you may wish to keep handy.
Rule: Spell out single-digit whole numbers.
Example: I would like five copies.
Rule: Use numerals for numbers greater than nine.
Example: I would like 10 copies.
Rule: Be consistent within a category. If you choose numerals because one of the numbers is greater than nine, use numerals for all numbers in that category. If you choose to spell out numbers because one of the numbers is a single digit, spell out all numbers in that category.
My 10 cats fought with their 2 cats.
My ten cats fought with their two cats.
Incorrect: I asked for five pencils, not 50.
Rule: If you have numbers in different categories, use numerals for one category and spell out the other.
Example: Given the budget constraints, if all 30 history students attend the four plays, then the 7 math students will be able to attend only two plays.
Note that students are represented with figures and plays are represented with words.
I asked for 30 pencils for my five employees.
I have 10 toes but only one nose.
A or B?
1. A. I have 11 cats and two turtles. B. I have eleven cats and 2 turtles.
2. A. We have 23 people in our class. B. We have twenty-three people in our class.
3. A. I need 3 pieces of paper, not twelve. B. I need 3 pieces of paper, not 12.
Posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2007, at 4:33 am