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Writing Tips on Formatting Numbers

Do you have questions about formatting numbers? There are two main rules that apply to writing numbers:

1. Write out single-digit numbers (one through nine) and use digits for numbers for 10 and higher, or

2. Write out one hundred and everything less. Use numbers for everything greater than one hundred.

Some style guides say to write out common numbers and use digits for all others. This would result in:

  • one thousand
  • 1,051
  • one million
  • 999,157

Of course, they’re exceptions and special cases. One example is that if a sentence begins with a number, always spell it. If this looks awkward, rewrite the sentence so that it doesn’t start with a number. In this case:

One thousand, two hundred and fifty-seven people were present . . .

becomes

The attendance was 1,257 . . .

Follow these pointers on formatting numbers to cover the most common situations.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

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