1. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    Using Number when writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hughesj, Jul 22, 2013.

    Hi all,

    I am currently writing a scene where I need to use numbers of apartment numbers and floor levels. I really have no idea whether to use 'Apartment 17, Level 9' or 'Apartment seventeen, Level nine'.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated in terms of this particular example and others like when talking about money and things because this is one thing that i can never work out
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Definitely the first, with an address, because that's what it looks like on the house or apartment or mailbox.

    For essays you spell out small numbers and use the numerical for larger ones.
     
  3. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    Thank you, but what if I was to say "the lights above the door indicate that the elevator is at level three/3"?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Again, '3', because that's what you see on the elevator indicator. If you are describing a scene, use what you'd see. If you are saying three people were there, use three, and if 3,429 people were there, use the numerical symbols.
     
  5. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    And stick to whatever system you use. Once you use either numbers or words for numbers, stick to it except to separate one set of thoughts from another.

    "It was seventy five steps to the second door on the right, which was apartment 2103"

    In that case the story is narrated by written numbers but the apartment number is "seen" by the reader, in their heads, as a four-digit code on a door.
     
  6. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    But you would probably want to say "over three thousand" if you wanted to use the written form because a long string of written words, like that, can lose your audience. You are painting a mental picture for them and "over three thousand" is just a blob of people in a large crowd.

    If the aliens need 3,430 people for their barbecue, that number is important enough to be included specifically. Or if the fire code allows 3,500 people in the club, again... important. If it needs to be more specific than "lots" I'd say estimate :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good advice and examples from jetblack...
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In dialogue, however, numbers should always be spelled out as spoken.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    true!
     

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