Historical Writing Project

Good and Bad Writing -- Exercises in Evaluating Writing Samples

Mechanics -- Numbers

In general numbers less than three digits should be spelled out while Arabic numerals should be used for numbers of three digits or more. 

A sentence should never begin with a numeral.  Numbers must be spelled out if they come at the beginning of a sentence.  It is best to change the sentence so it does not start with a number at all.

When used in a series, numerals should be used for all numbers.
The army suffered 200 dead, 34 wounded, and 9 missing.
For large round numbers, spell them out.
            seven million records sold                   3.4 million records sold
            three hundred million

When writing percentages, use numerals (unless it begins a sentence) and the word “percent.”
             The stock increased 20 percent.          Twenty percent of the army was killed.