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  1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    One or 1 - opinions please

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by doggiedude, Feb 26, 2016.

    I was wondering what people's opinions were in regards to using typed out numbers versus using just the numbers. I have seen a wide variety or combinations in use but am unsure if there's an "official publishers" preferred method. So far I've been typing out the words except when using time references (9pm etc) and percentages (20% rather than twenty percent). It all seems so random to me.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's not something that comes up often in my writing, but when it does, I tend to write the words out.

    "When is Marty arriving?"

    "He said it would be around nine."

    -----

    I ate ninety percent of a cake in a single sitting. I am now made of cake and regret.
     
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  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Someone once pointed out that words should be used when the numbers get cumbersome. Like, 92 I would type in numbers rather than write nintety-two. But 9 I would type as just nine.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I understand your question correctly, this is a style guide issue. I believe that most guides agree on the numbers one through ten being spelled out, and then start to disagree with each other as you move on to eleven, twelve, etc.

    Edited to add: Hmm. After quick Googling, it looks like the spelling-out tends to stop at higher numbers than I suggested. Anyway, it's a style guide issue.
     
  5. dedebird
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    dedebird Member

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    In school I was always told that you should spell out simple numbers (exp nine, one, thirteen, etc) but once they get larger it is more simple to just type it out (exp 2,001) But personally I think it depends on where the number is being used. If it is in speech I think it should always spelled out.
    Well actually I think that I was taught this for educational essays. In story writing it should always be spelled out, unless it is a year. But that's just preference.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a style issue. Most US fiction publishers use either Chicago or an in-house variant, so if you're writing fiction for that market, it's a good guide to follow. So... if you can express the number in one or two words, you write it out. If it would take more words than that, you use the digits. "One thousand", but "975".

    ETA: An obvious exception to this would be if you were writing a list with different numbers in it. You wouldn't write "998, 999, one thousand".
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's for this very reason I avoid, in prose, any number between eleven and 21...

    I mean, 11 and twenty-one. :)
     
  8. A.S.Ford
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    A.S.Ford Active Member

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    In the Creative Writing degree I am studying at university we were told to write the number as the word (one, two, three) when the number is less than a hundred (if I remember correctly) but I think that as long as you are consistent with your choice then it shouldn't matter too much (though I would still write numbers under 10 (at the very least) as the word rather than the letter). That's just my opinion though, haha.
     
  9. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    For what it's worth....Years, of course, always 1992, 782, 2016, etc. and don't use a comma in there (1,887). Other numbers, use commas.

    /pulls off mask

    I'm a medical transcriptionist. The rules we use where I work, ages are always in Arabic, without exception. Lab values are as well, and to expand that, I would say any technical info should always be Arabic as well, like if you're talking about the technical details of hydraulic pressure, or how many millimeters of tread is left on a tire, or, yes, someone's mean corpuscular volume (part of your complete blood count!). If it's someone in your story saying something, I'd be more inclined to spell out the number, but there's probably a point where you'd change to Arabic. What that point is, search me. Someone on here probably knows. I suppose you could use the "Let my Lord not grow angry if I ask another question" approach, though:

    "How about one thousand and forty-two?"

    "Do you think three million, two-hundred seventy-six thousand, eight hundred and twenty-one is ok?"

    "Could I get away with four hundred thirty-nine trillion, one hundred seventy-two billion, five hundred and seventy-two million---"

    /pulls out gun
    BANG!

    So there's probably a point. I'd tentatively suggest one hundred. Anything after that is 101. If you need to or could use "and" in the number (one hundred and one, for example, though one hundred one is theoretically doable), use Arabic.
     
  10. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Thanks you all for your answers. I'll have to do some reading for official protocols. From what I've read of the varying responses it seems like there's no one format so maybe I'm okay the way things are.
     
  11. Dameldut
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    Dameldut New Member

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    I was taught that one should always spell out the numbers. I also find it better to spell them out. When I tutored English for a while, I gave my students essays to write. Whenever I came across a number instead of the word I always penalised my students. It made more sense to me that the numbers should be written out.

    Dates and times though I would have allowed to pass. The 17th of January 2011 is a lot easier to read than the seventeenth of January two thousand and eleven.
     
  12. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I think the context of the number also matters as well as the length of the number. If it is describing an address or a hotel room even if the number is below ten it can be written out as the number. He was in room 2. If it is counting writing out the word sounds better. There were seventy-four apples.
     
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  13. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    The general rule is to type out any numbers 100 or something of the sort.
    Anything bigger, just numeric the words as it needlessly adds word count, adds lots of hyphens, and readers tend to take a double take on the very big ones as they might not realize how big it gets.

    It's a general rule though, not hard.
     
  14. Jeni
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    Jeni Member

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    I was always taught that when writing, numbers should be spelled out with the exception of dates and times.
     

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