1. John Carlo

    John Carlo Active Member

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    spelling out vs writing numbers, help!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Sep 5, 2012.

    I have an awkward sentence. But let's assume it has to be phrased the way it is. The rest of the paragraph will be filled with numbers that I write out numerically. Here is the awkward sentence(s):

    "According to Chinese astrology, it comes every 12 years. Starting in 1976, I’ve gone through 3 twelve-year cycles already."

    The problem I'm having is "3 twelve-year cycles". I want to write "twelve" numerically, but I hate the way
    "3 12-year cycles" look. It's confusing. But I don't like to mix spelling and writing out numbers in the same text. Any suggestions?
     
  2. ...

    ... New Member

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    write all letters, aside from year dates.
     
  3. John Carlo

    John Carlo Active Member

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    Normally I would, but the rest of the paragraph is dealing with mathematics and numerology, and it just isn't clear--in this case--to spell out all the numbers.
     
  4. ...

    ... New Member

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    use numbers just for the numerology, mathematics and year dates. Otherwise stick to normal rules.

    that's what I'd do.. I could be wrong, not like I'm an authority or anything.
     
  5. John Carlo

    John Carlo Active Member

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    Well, it sounds right. I'll give it a shot and see how it looks. Thanks.
     
  6. digitig

    digitig Contributor Contributor

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    If it's in dialog, write out the numbers even if it's mathematics or numerology. If it "just isn't clear" to spell out the numbers, the problem is with the dialog, not with whether the numbers are spelled out or not.
     
  7. John Carlo

    John Carlo Active Member

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    It isn't dialog, just exposition. An essay, of sorts.
     
  8. IMearthbound

    IMearthbound New Member

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    John,

    What about writing it: "According to Chinese astrology, it comes every twelve years. Starting in 1976, I've gone through three 12-year cycles already."

    Hopefully this helps!

    -A
     
  9. ...

    ... New Member

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    He didn't mention dialogue...


    @ JC, there should also be a comma after 'three'.
     
  10. digitig

    digitig Contributor Contributor

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    True, but it very much reads as dialogue.
     
  11. John Carlo

    John Carlo Active Member

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    What I ended up doing was spelling out all numbers except years and equations. The paragraph is looking nice now. Thanks all for the help.
     
  12. catchkatch

    catchkatch New Member

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    Regarding the comma comment-

    In this context, there shouldn't be a comma after 'three', because in this sentence the phrase 'twelve-year cycle' is a compound noun (where a noun is made up of more than one word). In this sentence the 'twelve-year' bit is part of the compound noun 'twelve-year cycle', and is not an adjective. So, no comma.
     
  13. John Carlo

    John Carlo Active Member

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    Thanks for responding to that. The comma thing didn't seem right to me, but I couldn't articulate why, other than it needlessly broke the flow of thought.
     
  14. auntiebetty

    auntiebetty Active Member

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    I don't know how to correctly write the time in this sentence. I am writing a novel. "The train arrived at 8:06 am." I have seen one style manual that says to write time out in all numbers. How would that be typed for this example?
     
  15. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If it's in narration, you can write the time in numerals. In dialogue, all numbers should be written out as spoken, especially because there are variations in how to say it.

    "The train arrived at eight oh six AM," replied the ticket agent. "No one got off at this depot."
     
  16. Reggie

    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I was always told to spell out numbers in dialogue.
     

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