Virtual teams target training

Writing numbers

Writing in English is confusing enough, but what do you do when you want to talk about numbers in a report, press release or even on the English version of your company’s website? Do you write the actual number or write the number in words? There are a couple of rules, but the main thing is to remain stylistically consistent throughout. Here are some tips along with examples:


Write out numbers smaller than ten

  • I’m taking three days of holiday next week.
  • The report I’m reading is 311 pages long.

Hyphenate the numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine

  • We hired fifty-three people in the last fiscal year.

Use the numeral if discussing measurement, time or proportion

  • Our next meeting starts in 15 minutes.
  • His plane should land around 7:30 tomorrow morning.
  • Our factory is 12 km from the main office.

When discussing precise numbers, do not spell them out

  • The average score on the Azubi’s exams was 88.2.

Use a hyphen if the number and unit of measurement describe a noun

  • A three-meter section of piping needed to be replaced.

You might have to use both numbers and words when the numbers are consecutive

  • Our incoming class of Azubis includes 14 twenty-year-old men.

Use numerals for years and dates

  • Our company was founded in 1883.
  • Our next convention is on 5 May 2016.

Try to avoid starting sentences with numbers, but if you do, spell them out, unless it’s a year

  • Seven hundred and fifty-liters of paint were delivered to the wrong address.

Numerals are also best when talking about sums of money

  • We had over €3.4 million in sales last quarter.
  • The cost was €1.20 per unit.

Some other stylistic points are writing noon instead of 12 pm in order to avoid confusion and to use numerals for fractions (unless they start a sentence). What difficulties have you run into when writing numbers? Let us know in the comments section below.