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HeyBooBoo
05-15-2006, 08:17 AM
I'm not sure if numbers should always be written, or if there are exceptions. I have a piece in my book where a character says, "Thanks for the psychology of Savannah 101."

Which would be appropriate?:

psychology of Savannah 101
Psychology of Savannah 101
psychology of Savannah one-oh-one
Psychology of Savannah one-oh-one

Thanks!

reph
05-15-2006, 08:32 AM
This one:

Psychology of Savannah 101

because that's the way it'd be written as the title of a college course, which is what the speaker is alluding to.

HeyBooBoo
05-15-2006, 10:12 AM
Thank you reph!

Jamesaritchie
05-15-2006, 02:38 PM
I'll differ from reph on this one. No one can speak a number. It isn't possible, no matter when or where or how the number is used. We speak words that represent numbers. This is why words that represent numbers exist.

reph
05-15-2006, 09:09 PM
James, would you go with "Psychology of Savannah One-Oh-One," then? A similar question arises when a character speaks a phone number. When reading, I understand "555-3964" immediately. If a line of dialogue says "I tried Five Five Five, Three Nine Six Four, but it's been disconnected," or the same thing in lower-case, I have to translate.

maestrowork
05-15-2006, 09:42 PM
"5" means and sounds like "five" (at least in the English language). It's understood. The same reason why we write "$12,345,678" instead of "twelve million three hundred forty-five thousand six hundred and seventy-eight dollars."

rich
05-15-2006, 09:58 PM
Yep. We already use symbols for meaning. To say that if it's written somewhat phonetically it makes more sense doesn't make sense. As much as we read as we speak we can't sacrifice clarity for speech.

janetbellinger
05-16-2006, 12:10 AM
I always use words to signify numbers whenver it is logical such as fifty dollars instead of $50.00. Obviously, it wouldn't make sense to say Psychology one oh one so I'd use 101 instead.

Maryn
05-16-2006, 04:37 AM
I, too, would use Psychology of Savannah 101. In fact, it's a peeve of mine when an author has his character thumb through the phone book to the gees, or punch nine-one-one into the phone. I have to stop and translate--which pulls me right out of the story.

Maryn, distractible

Puma
05-17-2006, 03:36 PM
In the old days the rule was - numbers less than one hundred were always written out, numbers over one hundred could be written as numbers. However, you have to think about the normal way the number is used, i.e., Flight 92 would look strange written as words, three billion is easier to read as words, a telephone number would look very strange written as words (and how would you write it - nine hundred and eleven or nine-eleven or nine-one-one?) In some cases common usage should take precedence over tradition. Puma

General Joy
05-17-2006, 04:00 PM
I generally still follow that old rule in my writing, Puma. But I think it's a little different when numbers show up in dialogue. I would probably write "101" as most others have said, but I do see what James is saying about not being able to speak a number. For example, in my writing, when a character is speaking, I'll have him/her say, "It's twelve o' clock," instead of "It's 12:00." But I'm not sure I'd have a character say "Dial nine-one-one!" as opposed to "Dial 911!" Not sure where I'd draw the line...

Jamesaritchie
05-17-2006, 05:43 PM
In the old days the rule was - numbers less than one hundred were always written out, numbers over one hundred could be written as numbers. However, you have to think about the normal way the number is used, i.e., Flight 92 would look strange written as words, three billion is easier to read as words, a telephone number would look very strange written as words (and how would you write it - nine hundred and eleven or nine-eleven or nine-one-one?) In some cases common usage should take precedence over tradition. Puma

That's still teh rule, but it's still impossible to speak a number. It can't be done. No one has ever spoken a number, and they never will. Numbers can't be spoken, and dialogue is not writing, it's speech.

CaroGirl
05-17-2006, 07:52 PM
Numbers are symbols that, like all symbols, represent a concept. This particular concept (number) has a name. 2 = two. When I read 2, I think two.

Having to stop and read each word of a string of numbers, such as a phone number (five-five-five-two-three-six-four) looks unwieldy and, frankly, ludicrous. However, an age, thirty-two, for example, works well spelled out.

Do you spell out long strings of numbers, like telephone numbers, in your own work? Or, failing that, have you seen it done in any popular fiction? If so, tell me where. I'd really like to see examples of it in published work.

reph
05-17-2006, 09:27 PM
Having a police sergeant say "They found a body at the old Schmidt mansion. Get over to Twelve Riverside Drive right now" would look all right to me. Some rural addresses, however, have five digits. I wouldn't want to read "The barn burned down at Fourteen Thousand, Three Hundred Twenty-nine Cottonwood Road." There's also the question of how to handle "218 1/2 Lincoln Street" and "Apartment 5-D."

maestrowork
05-17-2006, 11:44 PM
IHMO:

OK: "I'd like a nice twelve-ounze steak, please," he said.

OK: "Get over to Twenty Sixty-Four Maple Street," she said.

OK: "I need another 4.5623 kilohertz," he said.

Not so good: "I have to be there at 12:30 p.m.," she said.

Not so good: "He is always 1 step ahead of you," he said.

Not so good: "There are 365 days in a year," she said.

OK: "The ISBN number is 1-933016-32-9," he said.

BottomlessCup
05-18-2006, 09:24 AM
I've been told --

In script dialogue, always write it out. Different characters say numbers differently.

Example:
$1.09 could be:

"one dollar and nine cents"
"a dollar nine"
"a buck nine"
"a buck oh nine"
etc.

smiley10000
05-18-2006, 09:02 PM
The best thing to do is be consistent. If you decide you want to write the number in words, do that all the way through.
The reader will *generally* not be annoyed as long as you pick a path and stick to it.

One thing to keep in mind though: Grammatically, a sentence cannot start with a number. For example
1 apple was left on the table. incorrect
One apple was left on the table. correct

HTH!
:D 10000

PeeDee
05-18-2006, 09:34 PM
If it were used in dialogue, I would probably write "Psychology 101" and if it were in descriptive text, I would write one-oh-one. That's a clumsy looking thing, though, so I might stick with 101 anyway.

I always write "fifty dollars" instead of $50.00. When I'm writing longhand, I'll write $50.00 because its a few less letters for my hand, but I always change it when I'm typing it into the computer.

Puma
07-04-2006, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puma
Hey BooBoo - go back up to my 5/17 post in which I said the old rule is numbers less than 100 are always written out (and James Ritchie concurred with my stating the old rule). So, yes, fifty-five and thirty are correct; 55 and 30 are not. Puma

I just re-read what you posted at the top, and it does clarify a lot, especially with the exceptions, such as Flight 92, or three billion. :)
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There's no universal standard for the point at which to switch to numerals. Newspapers tend to do it at ten or eleven, books at one hundred. Saving space is more important in journalism.
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MLA and APA format rules state that generally we write out numbers that are one or two words long and use numerals for anything more than that. Check this page:

Purdue Resources (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/593/01/)
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I wouldn't say "One-oh-one," anyway. I'd say "One-zero-one."

But writing it down? I'd put '101' if it was on a list, a door, a college prospectus and a character was looking at it. If, however, they were reading it out, I'd spell it in full.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maestrowork
Like Puma said, it's under 100, not 10.

Is there an official source for that because I do remember all my college writing classes saying it was only for 10 and under.
Puddle Jumper





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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puddle Jumper
Is there an official source for that because I do remember all my college writing classes saying it was only for 10 and under.

There's no single rule that prevails everywhere. Different style books give different rules. I posted earlier about the variations.
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Harbrace College Handbook, 5th Edition, copyright 1962, section 11F (Numbers) - "Although usage varies, writers tend to spell out numbers that require only one or two words; they regularly use figures for other numbers."

Wooley Scott Bracher College Handbook of Composition, 6th Edition, copyright 1958, Chapter 47 (Writing Numbers) - "Numbers that can be expressed in one or two words should be spelled out. Other numbers are usually expressed in figures."

Caution: Any number that begins a sentence MUST be spelled out (or the sentence reconstructed so the number is not first.)

So I didn't come up with my under one hundred on this shot but those are two valid sources (or at least they were in my day). Puma
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That's what I was taught too, but then I start working at a newspaper and everything seems to fly out the window.

In AP Stylebook, any number under 10 is spelled out. Ten and More than 10 is a numerical number. (Unless the sentence starts with the number) It does not matter if it is in the story or in a quote.
An exception, of course, is numbers in reference to age, in which case, they are always numerical.

I've carried that formula over into my writing.
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ATP
11-06-2006, 08:34 PM
Hmmm... I have just read some pundit's short web article. What this person did is begin the first sentence of a paragraph with a combination of numerals and the descriptor in letters eg. thousand, million.

I believe that one begins the opening sentence either as "
Twenty-four thousand..." (or million or billion etc), but most definitely not begin the sentence with "24 thousand...

What do the others here think?

veronie
11-07-2006, 01:48 AM
Never ever start a sentence with a numeral. Spell it out.

FennelGiraffe
11-08-2006, 12:18 AM
Harbrace College Handbook, 5th Edition, copyright 1962, section 11F (Numbers) - "Although usage varies, writers tend to spell out numbers that require only one or two words; they regularly use figures for other numbers."

Wooley Scott Bracher College Handbook of Composition, 6th Edition, copyright 1958, Chapter 47 (Writing Numbers) - "Numbers that can be expressed in one or two words should be spelled out. Other numbers are usually expressed in figures."Aha! Those are the first sources I've seen for the way I was taught as a child--to spell out numbers that can be written as one word. Just about the right dates, too.

My two cents' worth:
Psychology 101 - That's a title. Write it as is.
Flight 72 - While not strictly a title, I put it in the same category. Even if it's 'Flight 10'.
Addresses - I'm a little ambivalent. There's something to be said either way: '12 Oak Lane' or 'Twelve Oak Lane'. If spelled out, it should be capitalized.
Numbers beginning sentences - Always spell out. That said, if it's a number that's lengthy to spell out and awkward to read as words, I would recast the sentence instead.
Use either '5, 12, and 49' or 'five, twelve, and forty-nine', but not 'five, twelve, and 49', when several numbers are in the same sentence.That's for narrative, however. Dialog is different. I don't go by hard-and-fast rules so much as by how the character would say it and whether there's an obvious way to read it.
I usually write money out in the words the char would use, such as 'fifty bucks'. But I would write '$47.95' for an anal char who speaks precisely.
Time--if a char would say 'three thirty' I write '3:30', but for someone else it would be 'half past three'.
I think it's obvious that 'Call 911' is not the same as 'There are 911 names on the list', and I don't see any need to spell out either one.

jpserra
11-08-2006, 04:33 AM
The best thing to do is be consistent. If you decide you want to write the number in words, do that all the way through.
The reader will *generally* not be annoyed as long as you pick a path and stick to it.

One thing to keep in mind though: Grammatically, a sentence cannot start with a number. For example
1 apple was left on the table. incorrect
One apple was left on the table. correct...

Isn't this fun? Well, I have, sitting in front of me, my notes from a college 130 class. Numbers over 10 are spelled out. Start sentances with text, always. (Exception, technical texts). There is more, but I must agree with Smiley. Be consistent in whatever you choose to do.

This has been a very entertaining set of posts.

Of course I did attend college in California. What does that say?

John Serra

veronie
11-08-2006, 05:43 AM
Numbers over 10 spelled out? That's interesting. In journalism style, which is what I am used to working with, numbers nine and below are spelled out, numbers 10 and above are numerals. But this is done to save space in newspapers. With most other writing, you often spell numbers out in most cases.

For example, if i was writing a novel, I'd write: Sam counted five ducks and twelve geese in the pond.

If i was writing it for a newspaper, I'd write: Sam counted five ducks and 12 geese in the pond.

Sassenach
11-08-2006, 06:22 AM
I've been following AP style since high school [40 years ago] and every pub I've ever worked for has done the same.

Numbers below 10 spelled out; 10 an above Arabic numerals, unless beginning a sentence.

K1P1
11-08-2006, 04:59 PM
There's also a semi-rule for clarity when dealing in written text with counts and quantities:

Five 2-ounce skeins
Three 8-ounce steaks
Forty 5-pound bags

Spelling out the count and using a numeral for the measurement makes the meaning more clear than if both are either words or numerals.

jpserra
11-09-2006, 01:27 AM
Numbers over 10 spelled out? That's interesting. In journalism style, which is what I am used to working with, numbers nine and below are spelled out, numbers 10 and above are numerals. But this is done to save space in newspapers. With most other writing, you often spell numbers out in most cases.

For example, if i was writing a novel, I'd write: Sam counted five ducks and twelve geese in the pond.

If i was writing it for a newspaper, I'd write: Sam counted five ducks and 12 geese in the pond.

Oops. Finger slips. My mistake, number under 10 spelled out, over 10 use numbers.

John

ErylRavenwell
11-09-2006, 07:52 AM
Depend on the circumstance.

For instance, I would rather write: "The number 209 was inlaid on the door" rather than "The number two hundred and nine was inlaid on the door." The former is more evocative of the real world. Otherwise, I write the numbers in words, even the chapters, to conveniently increase my word count ;)

Mod35tBabe
11-18-2006, 11:44 AM
I went with the rule taught in my course - anything over the number ten is not spelt out, anything under is. With something like Psychology 101, that's how I'd write it. For an address I'd write 101 Eagle Lane, unless a character said it aloud eg one oh one Eagle Lane, or in some cases one zero one or one naught one if that's how I felt the character would say it.

Sean D. Schaffer
11-18-2006, 07:16 PM
I've been following AP style since high school [40 years ago] and every pub I've ever worked for has done the same.

Numbers below 10 spelled out; 10 an above Arabic numerals, unless beginning a sentence.

Bolding Mine.

Forgive me for asking, but what is an Arabic numeral? I've heard the term before, but I've never been quite sure what it means.

Sandi LeFaucheur
11-18-2006, 09:46 PM
Forgive me for asking, but what is an Arabic numeral? I've heard the term before, but I've never been quite sure what it means.

The numbers we use each day. (as opposed to Roman numerals)

Sean D. Schaffer
11-19-2006, 01:13 AM
The numbers we use each day. (as opposed to Roman numerals)


Oh, cool. Thanks for clarifying that for me. I have always heard that term but honestly never knew what it meant. I appreciate it highly.

Kentuk
11-20-2006, 04:47 AM
I might go with one-oh-one because that is how it is said and the number could be read hundred and one, of course I might not.

blacbird
11-20-2006, 12:36 PM
I just ran across an interesting usage, a sentence beginning: "Twenty or 30 of x . . ." I have no idea if that's a standard construction or not.

caw.

JimmyB27
11-20-2006, 04:50 PM
That's still teh rule, but it's still impossible to speak a number. It can't be done. No one has ever spoken a number, and they never will. Numbers can't be spoken, and dialogue is not writing, it's speech.

If you want to be like that, no-one can speak words or letters, either. We speak vocal patters that represent those words and letters

blacbird
11-20-2006, 11:38 PM
I'll differ from reph on this one. No one can speak a number. It isn't possible, no matter when or where or how the number is used. We speak words that represent numbers. This is why words that represent numbers exist.

By your logic here, no one can speak Chinese, either.

caw