Write out numbers -- or not?

Subject: Write out numbers -- or not?
From: "Brigitte Johnston" <bjohnston -at- humantech -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 10:28:29 -0400

Hi all -

A question about when to spell out numbers...

I edit technical reports that are full of numbers indicating pounds,
inches, degrees, minutes, etc. I'm familiar with the rule about spelling
the numbers out when they're ten or below (and then using 11, 12, etc.).
However, what would you all do if you came across a situation like this?

"Currently, three operators work at this job every day; each operator
works an 8-hour shift, and may also work overtime. Operators handle
approximately three 50-lb bags of acid per batch. The cycle time is
approximately 20 minutes per batch, and the production standard for this
operation is 6 to 7 batches per shift."

When to spell out and when not to? Or, use all numbers? I find it
difficult to "pull out" the important items (like 6 to 7 batches per
shift) if they're spelled out, and I've read that, in technical reports
like these, it's best to just use the numbers. What would you do?

B. Johnston
Tech. Writer/Editor

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