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How to write numbers

It can be useful to know some basic rules for writing numbers in sentences.

The two rules below follow the United Nations Editorial Manual Online but are also consistent with several other style guides. 

  • Numbers up to and including 10 are usually written in full.

Percentages, however, are expressed in figures:  e.g. 5 per cent not five per cent.

  • Unless the figure occurring at the beginning of a sentence is a year, it is written in full. 

Examples

Six delegates were present at the meeting, whereas in the past, over 20 delegates had regularly attended meetings. 

Twenty-eight districts were affected by the measles outbreak.

2021 was a difficult economic year worldwide.

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Carol Waites (PhD)
Email: carolswritingtips@gmail.com
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Presentation/editing by Christina O’Shaughnessy (editor)
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