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buttonsrtoys
10-25-2018, 07:39 PM
I'm writing a paper for publication in an American Psychological Associate (APA) journal. The APA says to spell out numbers less than 10 and to use numerals for numbers 10 and larger, which I get. So, one, two, ... nine, 10, 11...

However, my paper makes frequent reference to surveys I sent participants at three and 12 months. This looks weird to me, linking numeral names and numerals with a conjunction. I'd prefer either three and twelve months or 3 and 12 months (my preference being the latter).

Am I alone in preferring numbers joined by a conjunction to be all numerals or words?

Maggie Maxwell
10-25-2018, 07:54 PM
Definitely not alone. That's part of why fiction usually says "if it's under 100, write it out." But if that's what the APA wants, then... well, they can edit it if it weirds them out too.

veinglory
10-25-2018, 07:56 PM
People used to reading these journals are going to be used to the style.

AW Admin
10-25-2018, 07:59 PM
Take them at their word; once the paper is accepted stylistic issues will be adjusted by the editor(s).

starsknight
10-26-2018, 04:05 AM
I haven't written anything in APA for quite some time, and I don't have a current version of the style guide. It used to be that precise quantities involving time used numerals, so I believe 3 and 12 months would have been correct. But style guides change, so you'd need to check the current one to see if that holds.

If it doesn't, I'd also check if there's a rule regarding consistency of numbers. For instance, in US fiction one generally uses The Chicago Manual of Style, which says to write out numbers up to and including one hundred, and use numerals for higher numbers. But there are a TON of exceptions to that general rule, including a consistency exception, which basically says "adjust the rules as needed for consistency so things don't look weird." So, for instance, per CMOS, either of the following would be correct:

There were ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall. Shards of glass covered the floor.

and

There were 99 bottles of beer on the wall and 226 shards of glass on the floor.

So if you have access to the current APA Publication Manual, you could check if APA has a similar provision. If (like me) you like knowing these things.

AW Admin is absolutely correct, though: a copy editor who knows the APA Publication Manual backwards and forwards will make any adjustments needed after the paper's been accepted.

Chris P
10-26-2018, 04:26 AM
If I recall correctly, in tech writing numbers less than 10 are spelled out when you are counting objects, such as six eggs, four children or eight months, but the number is used when followed by a unit, such as "5 lbs," "8 g," 5 km," etc.

Your example of "three and 12 months" is correct, even if it looks weird.

Oh, and if giving a range separated by an en dash, only numerals are used: 3--12 months, never three--12 months (I can't do a proper en dash on the tablet here, sorry). Even more pedantic, a hyphen is not an en dash is not a minus sign, and the latter two are differentiated by how they are spaced. 3--12 is a range from three to 12, while 3 -- 12 is three minus 12, or --9.

Chris P
10-26-2018, 04:40 AM
If I recall correctly, in tech writing numbers less than 10 are spelled out when you are counting objects, such as six eggs, four children or eight months, but the number is used when followed by a unit, such as "5 lbs," "8 g," 5 km," etc.

Your example of "three and 12 months" is correct, even if it looks weird.

Oh, and if giving a range separated by an en dash, only numerals are used: 3--12 months, never three--12 months (I can't do a proper en dash on the tablet here, sorry). Even more pedantic, a hyphen is not an en dash is not a minus sign, and the latter two are differentiated by how they are spaced. 3--12 is a range from three to 12, while 3 -- 12 is three minus 12, or --9.

buttonsrtoys
10-26-2018, 05:40 PM
I haven't written anything in APA for quite some time, and I don't have a current version of the style guide. It used to be that precise quantities involving time used numerals, so I believe 3 and 12 months would have been correct. But style guides change, so you'd need to check the current one to see if that holds.

If it doesn't, I'd also check if there's a rule regarding consistency of numbers. For instance, in US fiction one generally uses The Chicago Manual of Style, which says to write out numbers up to and including one hundred, and use numerals for higher numbers. But there are a TON of exceptions to that general rule, including a consistency exception, which basically says "adjust the rules as needed for consistency so things don't look weird." So, for instance, per CMOS, either of the following would be correct:

There were ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall. Shards of glass covered the floor.

and

There were 99 bottles of beer on the wall and 226 shards of glass on the floor.

So if you have access to the current APA Publication Manual, you could check if APA has a similar provision. If (like me) you like knowing these things.

AW Admin is absolutely correct, though: a copy editor who knows the APA Publication Manual backwards and forwards will make any adjustments needed after the paper's been accepted.

Thanks starsknight! Your thoughts led to a quick google that produced this:

According to section 4.31e of the Publication Manual (p. 112), numerals are used to represent specific values that signify time, dates, ages, scores and points on a scale, exact sums of money, and numerals as numerals. For instance, one would write 5 days instead of five days. However, there is an exception to this rule: When referring to approximate units of time (e.g., weeks, days, months, and years), use words instead of numerals, as in about five days instead of about 5 days.

So 3 and 12 months it is!

starsknight
10-26-2018, 06:59 PM
Perfect! Glad you were able to find it, and that I put you on the right track. :)

Also glad it solves the problem of three and 12, because style guide or no, that just looks dreadful. Good luck with your paper!

blacbird
10-27-2018, 07:59 AM
This also strikes me (who writes and edits a lot of academic scientific articles) as a really really minor issue that a given editor will handle if necessary. I wouldn't overthink it.

caw