Helpful Tips in Writing Numbers

When to Write Numbers in Figures and When to Word it Out

This article is authored by Sir Neb.
Numbers are everywhere. It is not only present in the math textbooks or in the statistical tools, but they are in our salary slips, research papers, computers, etc. I’m pretty sure that writing numbers comes easily to those who know it by heart. Unfortunately, to some, this is a bit difficult especially if you don’t know whether you’ll spell them out or just go ahead and write the number itself.

Writing numbers in a thesis, dissertation, or a case study are crucial. In order to avoid errors and red marks on your paper, refer to the below rules and tips on how to write numbers:

      1.      Spell out the number at the beginning of the sentence.
Example:   Four children were caught cheating during the English test.
                  Three winners will be announced for the English oration contest today.

      2.      Numbers under 10 are spelled out.
There will be seven teachers who will observe the class of Mrs. Dela Cruz.
Chris has two sisters and one brother.

      3.      Fractions are spelled out when it is at the beginning of the sentence.
One-third of the apples in the basket are rotten.
Three and one-half table spoons of sugar are needed to complete the recipe.

Exemption: We use the numeric form of the mixed fractions when it is in the middle or at the end of the sentence.

Example:   This recipe calls for 1 1/3 cups of vegetable oil.

4.      Numbers 10 and above are expressed in a numeric form.
Example:   Jennifer bought 15 novel books and 10 English reference books.

Note: It is best to write the numeric form when there is a list of numbers in a sentence.
            Example:         My friend has brothers and sisters aged 5, 10, and 15.        

5.      Dates and years are expressed in a numeric form.

Example:   She was born on May 10, 1995.

Note: Do not use the ordinal numbers when writing the full dates such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.

6.       The percentage is written in numeric form unless it is, at the beginning of the sentence.


The respondents are composed of 60% male and 40% female.
Thirty percent of male respondents chose to read short stories instead of novels.

7.      Decimals are always in numeric form.


There was 0.05 margin of the significant difference in the behavioral surveys.

8.      Time is written numerically when we emphasize the exact time and when we use A.M or P.M.

Example:         The meeting will start at exactly 2:00 P.M. tomorrow.

Note: Some writers prefer to spell out the number when starting time with the word “O’clock”.

Example:         Brian woke up at nine o’clock this morning. 

9.      A large number or whole numbers are expressed in numeric form. However, we spell it out when it requires only a few words.


Mr. Darcy received a gift cheque worth ten thousand dollars.
Alexander won a total of $15,359,090 in a lottery.

Note: When spelling out numbers it is not necessary to use “and” in a sentence such as five hundred and fifty dollars.

 10.  Always put hyphen to spell out numbers above 20 to 99. This is called compound numbers.


Thirty-seven people are saved by the search and rescue team.
Eighty-five houses were sold and given to the less fortunate family as part of the program.

11.  There are two ways to write the numbers expressed in decades:

a.      Put an apostrophe before the incomplete numeral and no apostrophe before the s.

Example:   Technology is much different during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Some writers put an apostrophe before the s but omit the apostrophe before the incomplete numerals.

Example:   During the 70’s and 80’s, the economy was strong and stable.

b.      You may express decades in complete numerals as it is cleaner to avoid apostrophe.

Example:   During the 1980s and 1990s, the economy was strong and stable.

Brain Teaser:

Please re-write the following sentences with the proper way of writing numbers based on the article above. Write your answers in the comment section below:

1. It is amazing how technology evolves from '80's as a result,  children nowadays usually wake up at 9 o'clock in the morning.

2. The group will meet at exactly twelve P.M.

To check your answer, please click here:

This article is authored by Sir Neb.