Number one in text?

Subject: Number one in text?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2005 17:37:26 -0500


bhenderson wondered: <<This may be obvious to some, but because "31" is also used in the same sentence, I'm stumped, and I did look for an answer. What is the correct way to render the number one in this sentence? "Enter a number greater than [one / 1] and less than 31.">>

Both "1" and "one" could be defended, but the most common guideline in editorial style guides is to avoid mixing numerals (31) with the words for numbers (one). This is a good choice for consistency, but I also recall reading in the cognitive psychology literature that numerals and words are processed differently by one's brain, and it's best not to force the reader to switch between the two modes of processing: thus, compare apples with apples.

A side note: As written, only numbers 2, 3.... 30 are legal numbers. If 1 is permitted, change the first part to "greater than 0" or "greater than or equal to 1".

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
www.geoff-hart.com
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