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  1. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Numbers in fiction...quoted dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dillseed, Apr 19, 2014.

    We speak in words, not numbers.

    That being said, are these correct? This would be a huge help to me. I thank you in advance for any guidance.

    Mike said, "My grandfather once owned a fifty-five thousand dollar a year industry in the nineteen seventies." (Only "21-99 are hyphenated in written dialogue, correct? Do not hyphenate compound modifiers.)

    Joel said, "The figures represented a twenty-two percent a year increase in sales since nineteen ninety-eight." (Look okay?)

    Marlin said, "The figures represented a sixty-five to seventy million dollar a year increase in funding." (Good?)

    Joe said, "My telephone number is six one eight, four five zero, nine three five four." (Punctuated correctly with the commas?)

    Joe said, "My credit card number is zero, four, eight, one, six, one, one, one, four, nine, seven." (Okay?)

    Helen said, "Martha gave birth to a six pound five ounce baby girl." (Good without hyphens?)

    Louis said, "Henry was a a savage six foot eight inch juggernaut on the gridiron." (Good without hyphens?)

    Garry said, "Mike is staying in room number one fifty." (Good?)

    Helen said, "Mike is staying in Room Five." (Cap "Room Five"?)

    Connie said, "The nineteen eighty-five hit 'Take on Me' was her favorite song of all time."

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
  2. Fronzizzle
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    Fronzizzle Member

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    I'm not going to be any help, but I found this thread interesting - this is something I struggle with constantly. What is "correct" versus what is easier/better for a reader strike me as two different things. Take the phone number, for example. As a reader, I'm much rather have it be written as 618-450-9354 than the way you have it above.

    Years and decades are tough, too. It feels...odd when I write something like "two thousand and eleven." And dates are worse; it seems so unnecessary to write out "September twenty-third, nineteen eighty seven" or whatever.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    This is how I would do it:

     
  4. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    Numbers are basically just shorthands. Treat them that way. Writing something in numbers, on one side, takes the reader out of their usual word-only reading "habit" and forces them to decipher them into something meaningful (thankfully this is a process that takes very little time for most of us), while, on the other, they reduce the symbol-count and space used on a page in a book and make it easier for the reader to indentify it (such as a phone number) as being different from the words on either side, in the same way capitalising names make them stand out more, and it also makes each digit more easily identifiable as part of a "string of numbers", rather than numbers by themselves. We see this logic in how it's common to write relatively small numbers with words, while it's not feasible to keep spelling out large, complicated numbers in the billions over and over. There are also some well-established standards out there, some of which may be somewhat confusing, but most people learn these at a young age.

    Here's my take on the OP's examples:

    Mike said, "My grandfather once owned a 55,000 dollar a year industry in the 1970s/'70s."

    Joel said, "The figures represented a 22 percent/% (percentages are very "mathy" and as such our brains tend to like them spelled with numbers, and, besides, "twenty-two" is clunky enough to warrant using numbers) a year increase in sales since 1998 (I'd say everyone should stick to the convention of writing years with numbers)."

    Marlin said, "The figures represented a sixty-five to seventy /65-70 (this one could in my mind easily be done either way, but personally I'd have used numbers) million dollar a year increase in funding."

    Joe said, "My telephone number is 618-450-9354."

    Joe said, "My credit card number is 04816111497."

    Helen said, "Martha gave birth to a six pound five ounce (or you could do the math yourself and write it as "something point something whatever unit") baby girl."

    Louis said, "Henry was a a savage six foot eight inch /6'8'' (I'd use numbers here as it's a bit of a hassle to have to read something as mundane as someone's height in four seperate words; the punctuation is none of my business, BTW) juggernaut on the gridiron."

    Garry said, "Mike is staying in room number 150 (or, as I would have put it, simply "room 150"; just as with the phone and card numbers I don't really believe the pronunciation is worth noting, unless it's a joke or plot point, and would you even ever spell out "oh" if someone pronounced the number "0" that way?)."

    Helen said, "Mike is staying in room 5 (that's probably what it says on the door and keys and stuff, so why not just go with that?)."

    Connie said, "The 1985 hit 'Take on Me' was her favorite song of all time."

    There are other posts on this and similar topics already on the forums, BTW, which might be worth checking out. :)
     
  5. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Thank you.

    Have a great day!

    The Seed
     

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