Ask Me Help Desk

Ask Me Help Desk (
-   Communication (
-   -   Rules for spelling out numbers in a letter. (

  • Apr 15, 2009, 10:04 AM
    Rules for spelling out numbers in a letter.
    When writing a business letter, what is the rule for spelling out numbers and using just the numeral?
  • Apr 15, 2009, 01:00 PM

    According to the APA Publication Manual, you should use words to express any number that begins a sentence, title, or text heading. (Whenever possible, reword the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.)

    For example:

    Ten participants answered the questionnaire.

    Forty-eight percent of the sample showed an increase; 2% showed no change.

    Four patients improved, and 4 patients did not improve.
  • May 2, 2009, 10:02 PM

    Remember, in business everything you write can be considered a contract. It is best practice to use numbers and words when describing values. This leaves nothing to error when engaged in price or performance. The APA is a good reference for publishing.
  • May 20, 2009, 12:21 PM
    For a little more detail, the AP Style book is helpful. Here's my summary of AP's rules:

    General: Spell out whole numbers one through eleven.

    Main Exception: Numbers at the beginning of a sentence are always spelled out. Sometimes it's easier to just rewrite the sentence. One exception to this rule is a calendar year. Example: 2009 was a good year.

    The following are ALWAYS figures:
    • Ages
    • Measurements and dimensions
    • Monetary units
    • Million, billion
    • Percentages
  • May 28, 2009, 02:31 PM

    Another rule I follow is that if a number is in the body of the letter (not the start of a sentence) I write out single digit numbers, and use numerals for larger numbers. It's less awkward than, for example, writing out "Two hundred and seventy two thousand four hundred dollars" to write "$273,400." Our brains do not process large numbers that are written out very well.

    And another option is to do both:

    "As we discussed, the overall cost for completing the new hospital wing will be One million, two hundred thousand dollars ($1.2 million)."

  • All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:10 PM.