In non-fiction, numerals should be used for numbers 10 and above, and for currency, but words are used for numbers one to nine (except in tables, money lists and math(s) references). However, in fiction, numbers should be written out wherever practicable.

Use numerals for page numbers, chapter numbers, etc.

  • When two small independent numbers are used together, it may be necessary, for distinction, to spell out the first number, e.g. three 2-paragraph documents; six 4-page letters.
  • Percentages always take figures: 2 percent, 2 pc, 2%. Use 0.5% rather than .5%. When the % symbol is used, there should be no space separating it from the preceding numeral.
  • Degrees always take figures: 35 degrees, 35°C. When the ° symbol is used, there should be no space separating it from the preceding numeral. But 3,000 K (3,000 degrees kelvin).
  • Centuries should always be spelt out in lower case, e.g. twentieth century, first century AD, fifth century BC. Where appropriate, 15th century, for example, can be used.
  • For rounded large numbers, use words and numerals: 47 million (not 47,000,000), but 47,254,128.
  • Commas should be used in numbers of four or more digits to separate hundreds from thousands/millions, e.g. 8,900 not 8900.
  • The negative symbol for numbers (whether in standard font or superscript) should be an en dash, e.g. –20, 15–8.
  • Fractions should be written: ½ (top figure in superscript, slash, bottom figure in subscript). The basic fractions (quarter, half, three quarters) can be found in Word, under Insert/Symbols and ‘normal text’.
  • 89/78 (this fraction is entirely made up of ‘normal text’ symbols, including superscript and subscript formatting)
  • The time should be written as 9 am or 9:30 am (see Dates and Times)

Do not use ‘th’ after a fraction—there is no precedent in any mathematical book or dictionary for this.

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