It’s important to use a consistent style when writing numbers. If you’re inconsistent in the same document, it will look like a mistake!
There are various ways of writing numbers, explained below.
Style 1 is the most common – and style 2 is common in certain situations (e.g. online). The third table shows additional information on how to write numbers – which applies in most situations. Style 3 is used for writing about costs and fees in legal and financial contexts. Academic writing is covered in style 4.
Choose your style from the information in these tables:
|Style 1||This is the most common style for writing numbers (e.g. newspapers, business reports, books)|
|one - nine||Write in words||We met one coach, two teachers and nine students in the gym.|
|10 and over||Write in digits||We met 120 students, 12 teachers and 22 parents in the gym.|
|Mixed numbers in the same sentence||Most common: Follow the style above so that numbers are a mixture of digits and words.|
Also possible: Use all digits (which means that numbers under 10 will be digits in some sentences and spelled out in others)
|a. We met two teachers, 120 students and nine parents in the gym.
b. We met 2 teachers, 120 students and 9 parents in the gym.
|At the start of a sentence||Write in words, even when it’s over 10 .|
If the number is over 99, try to rephrase the sentence (or round it up or down)
|a. Twelve people attended the meeting.
b. Last year, 102,000 complaints were made by the public.
c. Over 100,000 complaints were made by the public.
|Punctuation for numbers at the start of a sentence||Two-word numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine are always hyphenated||Twenty-two people attended the meeting.|
|Additional information||Most numbering styles use these conventions|
|Numbering lists||Always use digits for tables of contents, page numbers, numbered lists etc.||Details are in table 1 in
|Million & billion||• A billion is one thousand million (not one million million)|
• Use the abbreviations except for people
c. 2 million people
|Units of measurement||Write in digits, even when under 10||2km / €4 / 1kg / 10% / 12lbs|
|Thousands||Use a comma for numbers over 999||Over 1,000 people attended the demonstration.|
|Ordinal numbers||• Write out in full until ninth then use digits|
• See separate entry for dates
|a. First to ninth
b. 10th / 21st / 62nd
|Decimals||• For decimals under 1, use the zero |
• Note the full stop, not a comma
b. 0.33 recurring
|Avoid confusion||This is your first priority – so break any rules if it’s necessary for clarity||a. three 4-page reports
three four-page reports
Not: 3 4-page reports
b. the first 2 items / the first two items
Not: the 1st 2 items