Re: Write out numbers -- or not?

Subject: Re: Write out numbers -- or not?
From: Mary Arrotti <mary_arrotti -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Brigitte Johnston <bjohnston -at- humantech -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 09:12:13 -0700 (PDT)

This is something that's been covered in some of the style guides I've written & contributed to. In all instances, we followed conventions from other style books (Chicago Manual of Style, Microsoft, etc.) Basically as follows:

For numbers 1-9, spell out (one, two, etc.) For numbers 10 and above, show symbol. When using a combination of numbers - including number less than 10 and more than 10 - use symbols.

However, it sounds like your documents regularly include multiple numbers of varying amounts so perhaps a more sensible (easier for your readers to follow) standard would be for you to just always use symbols. If faced between following a common standard vs. making content clear for readers - I'd go for clarity.

Brigitte Johnston <bjohnston -at- humantech -dot- com> wrote:
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?

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

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