RE: AP style for negative numbers?

Subject: RE: AP style for negative numbers?
From: David Brostoff <listaddr -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 9 May 2012 18:34:12 -0700

At 6:58 PM -0500 5/9/12, Linda Stark wrote:

HELP! I'm working on a paper that refers to a negative number, and I'm somewhat brain-dead at the moment. I subscribe to the AP Style Guide online and can't seem to log in, so I called them a couple of hours ago to see what the problem is. Since then I've waited for at least two hours. This paper must be done tonight, so I turn to you all. PLEASE help!

The sentence is: "Using this data, the project has an NPV of ($269,016) with a return on investment in 4 to 5 years."

I assumed the parentheseswere done by the author to indicate she should come back to verify the number, but no - she says they're there because it's a negative number. Those parentheses really bother me, but I can't cite why. What does AP say about using negative numbers in text? Is it correct as is? What should it be?

According to "Ask the Editor," AP style doesn't use parentheses with negative numbers. From the examples given, I think they would probably write this as "a negative NPV of $269,016."


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