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Writing out numbers : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Writing out numbers

Frequently asked questions. Go HERE and read the first thread.
Laycrew
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Writing out numbers

Postby Laycrew » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:52 pm


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pls
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby pls » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:56 pm

Numbers from 1-20 should be written as words; anything over that may be in numbers (or so says my manual of style).
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DrG2
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby DrG2 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:24 pm

I thought it was slightly more complicated than that (times are always numbers: 3:37 AM, one-word numbers are written out: a billion, etc.)

but the OP had it right in her examples.

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MookyMcD
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby MookyMcD » Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:33 am

First person is basically monologue, and I'd tend toward treating numbers like dialogue (which means avoiding numerals). So I'd say "Bunker thirty-eight ninety-seven" or "Bus four fifty-seven."

Laycrew
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby Laycrew » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:15 pm

Well, Mooky. :? You had to throw a monkey wrench in that, didn't you?

Considering what pls and DrG said, I will leave it as is.

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pls
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby pls » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:41 pm

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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:32 am

Write them out in dialogue, which also means first person narrative. As the writer, you get to decide what the numbers are, or how you shorten/paraphrase them so they're easier to write out.

If someone steal $100,201.37 from a bank, there's no reason to spell all this out. It wouldn't be realistic under most circumstances, anyway. Listen to newscasts about a robbery. Most will say something like, "A little more than one hundred thousand", or one hundred thousand and change", etc.

Likewise, yu do not have to make your bunker "3897". This is a choice on your part. I'd guess you could say a hundred other things, or many other numbers, that would work just as well. Make it easy on yourself, and make it easy on readers.

As for stylebooks, remember that almost all of them are written with formal nonfiction in mind. They don't apply in many ways for informal writing, or for fiction.

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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby Laycrew » Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:01 pm


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MookyMcD
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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby MookyMcD » Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:18 pm

Understand that above everything else, there's a Hippocratic Oath level of thinking here. First, do no harm. :D James and I are in agreement that you spell them out in dialogue and FP narration is treated the same way. So you've apparently got a 2/2 tie on that. I'd say the book title example is a COMPLETELY unique beast, since the numerals are in the title itself. But above anything, the real question here is what's going to flow best for the reader and work in the reader's world. Even if there were absolutes on this (and even having an opinion that one way is better, I don't think there are) they'd still need to yield to that.

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Re: Writing out numbers

Postby DrG2 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:01 am


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