How to Spell Numbers


Good grammar requires attention to detail and commitment to consistency. There are several different styles that can be applied to writing numbers in text. Once you have identified your (or your editor’s) preferred style, be sure to follow it in all communication.

Part 1
Spelling Single-Digit Numbers

Spelling Single-Digit Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

1
Unless you are short on space, this is the most widely accepted way to write a single-digit number.

Spelling Single-Digit Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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You may also spell it as “zed” if using the UK English accepted spelling. Since it can be easily mistaken for the letter “O” it is best to treat it as if it were a single-digit number.

Part 2
Writing Double-Digit Numbers

Writing Double-Digit Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

1
In almost all cases, single, double-digit and compound numbers should be spelled out for clarity if they start a sentence.[1] Exceptions may be used for incomplete sentences, like bullet points, or four-numeral dates (i.e. 1845).

Writing Double-Digit Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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The majority of styles suggest using the numerals, such as 67; however, Chicago Manual of Style suggests spelling these out until you get to number 99. Check with your professor or editor if you are unsure. Whatever you choose, make sure you are consistent.

Writing Double-Digit Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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This mostly applies to writing them at the beginning of a sentence. It can also apply to all double-digit numbers if you are using the Chicago Manual of Style.[2]

Writing Double-Digit Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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It is better to write “fifty cents” than “$0.50”. If you are writing cents as part of an amount greater than $1, write “$1.50”.[3]

Part 3
Writing Large Numbers

Writing Large Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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These numbers can get fairly long, and they are clearer if written as numerals. For instance, 487 is clearer and more succinct than four hundred eighty-three.[4]

Writing Large Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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Despite the long numbers, this is still the accepted grammatical style in most cases. Note, that it is better to use the most succinct version of the word when you start getting into the thousands.[5] For example, forty-five hundred is a better spelling than four thousand five hundred. You don’t need to use the word “and” for larger numbers, as it is implied.

Writing Large Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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For example, “She made $6,987 during the month of June.”[6]

Writing Large Numbers on How to Spell Numbers

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After you get to seven-digit figures, the zeros are generally too long to prove clear if you write numerals. For example, use one million, rather than 1,000,000. Add the word “dollars” after the spelling if you are referring to currency. Replace dollars with another currency if it applies.

Part 4
Writing Times or Dates

Writing Times or Dates on How to Spell Numbers

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For example, 1900 or 764. This is true whether at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.[7] It is a good idea to include AD or BC for double or triple-digit dates to improve clarity.

Writing Times or Dates on How to Spell Numbers

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For inexact times, you can write 8 AM, rather than 8:00. For specific times, include a colon and the exact time to the minute.[8] You can write AM and PM, am and pm, A.M. and P.M., or a.m. and p.m. All of these are correct. Just make sure you stick with one system.

Writing Times or Dates on How to Spell Numbers

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Writing Times or Dates on How to Spell Numbers

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Generally, it is better spell out seventies than write “70s.” Some styles prefer that you use numerals, in which case you should leave out the apostrophe before the “s.”[9]

Writing Times or Dates on How to Spell Numbers

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Also, avoid the apostrophe. For example, “1600s.”[10]