1. Wes
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    Wes Member

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    Numbers in writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Wes, Jun 1, 2011.

    Hey guys and girls. I got a question. When you're writing do you spell out time and age or just write the numbers. Like 6:00 or six o'clock. Twenty six or 26. I've seen it done both ways but is there a general rule? I don't know if it's a "to each their own" kind of thing. I know dates are normally written out. 1885, 1776, 1992, etc. Any way, just thought I'd see where others stand on it.
     
  2. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    I find that it looks too informal to write: Dave was 30 years old. That's just me, obviously others will have different views. The only time I've seen the time written 6:00 was in a spy thriller I read, because each chapter was titled with a time. In normal prose it's usually written six o'clock, or more generally e.g. late afternoon, six in the evening etc.

    It's up to you really, which looks right to you?
     
  3. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I've seen them written out more often than not, but I don't think there's an exact rule to it. It's up to you.
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I prefer if numbers such as 26 were written out as Twenty six, the number kinda just stands out too much. If it's a date, then that's fine. It's more convenient to the reader reading 1995 instead of having to read Nineteen Ninety Five.
     
  5. Noob
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    Noob New Member

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    The rule that I remember from high school was that if a number written out in letters is more than six characters its ok to use numbers instead of letters but personally I use letters.
     
  6. Wes
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    Wes Member

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    Mostly I use just letters unless it's like a header for the chapter / part. Thanks for the help.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I think for chapters, they should be numerical, as well as for years, but for ages or times they should be written out -- that's how I prefer it, anyway. :)
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    When I was a teenager I read a book on writing that said if the number is less than one hundred you should spell it out (fifty-six, for example), but if it's over one hundred, you can use numerals (254, for example).
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you've seen it done both ways, that means there isn't any rule.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    fyi, twenty six should be hyphenated... and yes, it should be spelled out, if used anywhere but as a chapter number, where it's optional...
     
  11. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    I have read this rule as well. I'd go with it.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Any numbers in dialogue should be spelled out. Generally, numbers in narrative should be spelled out as well, unless the number has many syllables (43.752 instead of forty-three point seven five two, unless it is in dialogue).

    Don't go by the magnitude of the number. Five million is still better than 5,000,000.

    Most numbers you encounter in narrative or dialogue should be spelled out, but addresses (15 Main Street) are an exception.

    Again, in dialogue, the number should be spelled out, as spoken. "The next town is a hundred and thirty-two miles away still." OR "The next town is one thirty-two miles away still." Different people will say the same number different ways.
     
  13. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Good topic! I was always wondering about this too :)

    Personally, the only time that I write the actual number themselves, is when my MC is writing a letter or something.

    And of course, the beginning of a chapter.

    Edit: If the chapter needs a date....
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    Edit: If the chapter needs a date....

    tell it to try one of those hookup websites... ;-)
     
  15. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    *Bursts out laughing*

    Yes!!!!! I was hoping someone would say that! lol

    :cool:
     
  16. Greendog
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    Generally you're supposed to write out the numbers unless they're really long like 1,789,306,925.011. That's how I learned at least.
     
  17. FlashNinja
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    I usually find it somewhat jarring when I see actual numbers written out in a story. It's just something you never seem to see, infact I can't seem to recall a book I've read with numbers in them right now.
     
  18. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Interestingly, I do design work on newsletters etc, and I've picked up that the rule used is numbers 1-10 are spelled out (ie one, two, three, four,five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten) but anything higher is written as a number (ie 11,12, 13 et etc). But I guess anything really large would be written as either 'two million' or '12 million' as an example.
     

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