Re: Write out numbers -- or not?

Subject: Re: Write out numbers -- or not?
From: linda_sims -at- vanguard -dot- com
To: "Brigitte Johnston" <bjohnston -at- humantech -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 11:38:05 -0400

Brigitte Johnson wrote on 04/05/2007 10:28:29 AM:

> 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?

That's a rule that works well for things like business
reports/correspondence or school papers (and school is where we all
learned it).

When you're dealing with technical information, however, it's usually best
to stick to arabic numerals because they are easily and quickly
recognizable as numbers. In your place, I'd change both "three"s to "3",
and I'd put a comma between "3" and "50-lb" so that it's obvious you're
not talking about a 350-lb bag of acid per batch.

Lin Sims
The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion
of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was

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Write out numbers -- or not?: From: Brigitte Johnston

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