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Editorial Style Guide: Numbers

F. Usage of numerical figures: biblical citations, dates, grade levels, historical periods, measurements, money, percentages, telephone numbers and time

biblical citations

1. Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3), not Roman numerals (I, II, III), in biblical citations.

INCORRECT: It turns out, there is no III Chronicles!

CORRECT: It turns out, there is no 3 Chronicles!

CORRECT: Self-control is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23.

2. Use an en dash, not a hyphen, between numbers in biblical citations.

INCORRECT: James 3:13-18 (hyphen)

CORRECT: James 3:13–18 (en dash)

See also H.dash, em and en.3 and H.dash, em and en.5.

dates

Use an en dash, not a hyphen, when citing continuing numbers in a date.

INCORRECT: The 2006 Bachelor of Arts Exhibition is May 12-20.

CORRECT: The 2006 Bachelor of Arts Exhibition is May 12–20.

See also H.dash, em and en3 and H.dash, em and en 5.
See also H.comma.4 and J.dates.

fractions

1. For amounts less than one (i.e., one-half), spell out the fraction, using hyphens.

CORRECT: Jane Zandstra has been in the Cold Knight Club for six and a half years (the one-half is for the time she waded in only to her waist).

2. For amounts larger than one, use numerals when appropriate: Spell out numbers below 10 if not an age, dimension or other numeral-only figure.

3. To represent fractions, use the fraction symbols available in word-processing programs (1½), as opposed to the chunky, difficult-to-decipher backslash (11/2).

CORRECT: Debbie Vreeland is 27½ years old and owns one-eighth of her family business. Two-thirds of her life was spent in a 9¾-by-12½-foot cubicle. She believes that her pricey office chair has increased her happiness by two-thirds.

See also F.general usage.1, F.general usage.4, F.measurement and F.percentages.

general usage

1. Spell out the numbers one through nine, and use numerals for the numbers 10 and above.

CORRECT: Jeff ate four of the 12 doughnuts that were in the Krispy Kreme box, and the office manager was forced to send a student worker for another dozen.

2. Place a comma after numerals signifying thousands. Omit the comma when referring to temperature.

CORRECT: Calvin enrolls more than 4,000 students annually.

CORRECT: The students heated the compound to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, thereby melting the lab and everything in it.

3. Spell out a number used to begin a sentence.

CORRECT: Twenty-five students signed up for the interim, but, oddly, very few seemed interested in the volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands.

4. Use regular numbers, not ordinal numbers, for dates and ages of persons. Do not use superscript when writing ordinals.

INCORRECT: “The Sustainability Festival will enlighten many on May 23rd at the Bunker Interpretive Center,” said Myena Gray, the center’s cheerleader.

CORRECT: “The Sustainability Festival will enlighten many on May 23rd at the Bunker Interpretive Center,” said Myena Gray, the center’s cheerleader.

grade levels

Spell out grade levels one through nine, and use numerals for grade levels 10 and above. Hyphenate grade levels.

CORRECT: It was a fifth-grader who pulled the fire alarm, but an 11th-grader took the rap for it.

See also F.general usage.1.

measurement

1. Use numerals for dimensions, percentages, distances, computer storage capacity and other measurements.

2. Spell out inches, feet and yards to indicate length, depth, height and width.

INCORRECT: She stood 6’6” tall. She was very tall.

CORRECT: She stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall. She was very tall.

INCORRECT: The rug he brought back from Petra measured 8 1/2’x11 1/2’, but the Customs guys called it a 9’x12’ rug.

CORRECT: The rug he brought back from Petra measured 8½ feet by 11½ feet, but the Customs guys called it a 9-by-12 rug. (He also said it was woven by Nabataeans: Sheeyah.)

CORRECT: The senior engineering team’s design for its team project had dimensions of 6.7 meters by 4.3 meters by 30 cubits, until one engineer realized he had referenced his morning devotions instead of his tape measure.

CORRECT: The business professor claimed that he had documented a 7-percent decrease in completed homework assignments.

See also F.percentages.

money

1. Note monetary amounts in running text using numerals and a dollar sign. Do not include a decimal point and zeros when citing a whole dollar amount in running text.

INCORRECT: He spent $9.00 to take her to the college play.

CORRECT: He spent $9 to take her to the college play.

CORRECT: She reimbursed him for the $4.50, but she broke his heart all the same.

2. Use numerals for amounts of more than $1 million, and spell out million, billion and gazillion.

CORRECT: The anonymous donor gave $35 million for on-campus renovations, which was nice.

3. Use the word cents when citing amounts less than $1 in running text.

CORRECT: At the end of the semester, Sara Goedkoop had 59 cents remaining on her debit card, so she called home for cash, as was her wont.

percentages

1. Always use numerals to indicate percentages, and spell out the word percent.

2. Hyphenate between the number and the word percent when they form a compound modifier.

INCORRECT: Because of a computer error, the faculty of the history department received raises of 15%.

CORRECT: Because of a computer error, the faculty of the history department received raises of 15 percent.

CORRECT: It took more than a year for history department professors to come clean about their 15-percent raises. (compound modifier)

See also H.hyphen.1.

telephone numbers/ extensions

1. When citing phone numbers, omit the 1 preceding the area code and place the area code in parentheses. Punctuate the remaining phone number with a hyphen, not a slash or period.

CORRECT: As a result of a prefix change, the Calvin College phone number is now (616) 526-6000.

2. When noting an on-campus phone extension, use the term ext. plus 6- and the extension.

CORRECT: Any questions about the style guide, style issues in general or anything else imaginable in the entire universe should be directed to Professor James Vanden Bosch at ext. 6-6592.

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