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    May 27 th, 2012
    General Writing No Comments

    Guidelines of Writing Numbers in an Article

    If you are wondering how numbers are expressed in articles, this will be the time for you to know how to write them. Writing numbers in articles are covered by certain rules. These are applicable when you write news, press releases or any printed or online article.

    These are the common guidelines of writing numbers in articles:

    1. Know the difference between a number and a numeral.

    Numbers and numerals are two different things. Numbers refer to the name given to a quantity while a numeral is the symbol that is used to represent or express that number. For example, one is a quantity which is represented by the symbol 1.

    2. Spell out whole numbers smaller than 10.

    That’s the rule. You should spell out numbers less than 10. This means that you should refrain from writing whole numbers from zero to nine.

    3. Use comma as a thousands separator.

    In English writing, the comma is used to separate thousands and the period is used to symbolize a decimal point.

    Other writing styles such as the one used in Continental Europe apply the opposite, as it uses the period to separate large numbers and use the comma to indicate a decimal point.

    4. Don’t use a numeral at the beginning of a sentence.

    It would be quite awkward to write “4 score and 7 years ago” as the beginning phrase of a sentence. It’s the reason why it is written as “fourscore and seven years ago.”

    In instances where there are numbers that need to be emphasized, it should be written in a way that does not put the numerals at the start of the sentence. So instead of writing “500 protesters were arrested last Monday,” you can write it this way: “Police arrested 500 protesters last Monday.

    5. Spell out centuries and decades, such as fifteenth century or the seventies. Avoid writing them as “15th century” or “70s” in your articles.

    6. Avoid using the percent symbol to signify percentages. Spell them out in your articles. Example: 20 percent, one percent.

    Using the percent symbol would be applicable in everyday writing, but it would be more appropriate to spell them out in formal articles.

    7. Write the numbers if they indicate exact quantities, but if they are rounded, you have to spell them out. So for example if there are 500,250,000 inhabitants in the city, you should write the exact number. But if it is rounded, you can say it this way in your article: “More than 500 million people live in the city.”

    8. If two numbers need to be mentioned next to each other, you should spell out the one that contains the fewest letters. So when you want to say “The school has 11 2-storey buildings,” write it this way instead: The school has 11 two-storey buildings.”

    9. Spell out ordinal numbers like first, second, third, and so on.


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