How to Properly Write Numbers in Text

It is upon rare occasion that I will write about any topic related to math or numbers; however, I know there is much confusion about when to write out numbers in word form versus using a numeral, especially since texting and its slew of common abbreviations have influenced the way we generally write. These days, the shorter the better it seems!

Here are some helpful hints to get you on the right track when writing numbers in text. Above all, please remember, it is not acceptable to use text lingo or abbreviations in formal writing or any writing outside of texting, including e-mails and academic pieces.  Read more on this pet peeve of mine in another blog, “Texting and Poor Writing Skills: No Reason to LOL!”

To properly write numbers in text, remember these basic pointers:

  • Numbers less than ten should be written out in word form.
  • Numbers at the beginning of a sentence should appear as words (“Forty students received academic honors.”  Do not write, “40 students received academic honors.”).
  • Numbers over a million should be written as the numeral followed by the word (35 billion), unless the number is exact rather than rounded (35,798,000,431).
  • Ordinal numbers showing position should be expressed in word form (third in line).
  • Periods of time should be written as words, such as decades and centuries (twenty-first century, the seventies).

Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away!

by Christa Riddle

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