JS Tip 91: From the Writing Workshops: More on Numbers and Numerals

Write out numbers that begin a sentence.

      Twelve days later, signs of rust appeared.

      Thirty-five participants completed the course.

Rewrite sentences that begin with a large number. (Consider any number more than a hundred as “large.”)


One hundred two fire fighters met with the mayor.

      and not

102 fire fighters met with the mayor.


The mayor met with 102 fire fighters.

Don’t repeat a number in parentheses unless you’re writing a contract or a legal document.


Seven (7) managers voted for the change.


Seven managers voted for the change.


We will sell you fifty (50) sets of material.

Don’t use numerals to abbreviate months.

At best, your readers will have to count the months to identify what you mean. The entry 8/25 requires your readers to count until they identify August as the eighth month.

At worst, your readers will have no idea what you’re talking about. The entry 1/5/11 could be either January 5th or May 1st.

Form the plural of numerals by adding a lower-case s:

The policy began in the 1980s.

He bowled two 245s and a 189 for a 679 series.

Form the plural of written-out numbers the same as you would any other plural.

The participants were in their thirties and forties.

She played a game called “Crazy Eights.”