Welcome to Writing Tip Tuesday, the Formatting Numbers edition. This is the second in a series of posts pulled from my free guide “On Not Writing Badly.” You can download the whole thing by filling out this form, or, if you’d rather not subscribe to my email list, you can simply check back here over the next several Tuesdays for a regular dose of word nerdery.
Numbers 0-100 should be spelled out when used in text.
Example: I have twenty-eight contractors.
Example: We will need 132 computers.
When the number is written out (as per the rule above), write out the word “percent” as well. When the numeral is used, use the percent symbol.
Example: eight percent
When writing out a dollar amount with numerals, include cents only if not equal to zero.
When abbreviating a dollar amount written with numerals, it is acceptable to drop the zeros. Do not use “M” in place of the word “millions.”
Example: $5 million
Always write dates out (whether you include the year or not). Do not use ordinal indicators (such as “st,” “nd,” “rd”).
Example: October 4, 2014
Incorrect: October 4th, 2014
Incorrect: 10/4/14 or 10/4/2014
Times should be written with numerals. Minutes should always been included after a colon. Include either a.m. or p.m. when needed for clarity. There should always be a space between the last number and either a.m. or p.m.
Example: The meeting began at 9:00 a.m. and was done by noon.
Example: Let’s meet at 10:30 a.m.
Note the lack of a second period in the example above. You need not double up on
periods. However, if that example had been a question (Can you meet at 10:30 a.m.?) the question mark would be in addition to the periods used in the abbreviation (a.m.).
Sue Meyers says
How do you describe a person’s height. Is five-ten okay, or should you write 5″10″ ? Thanks, April.
It depends on the context. In prose, I use five-ten.