Questions about Numbers • Should you write out the word “twenty-three” or use the numeral 23? • Is it fourteen feet or 14 ft. or 14’? • How would a reader interpret this sentence: “Assembly requires 3 6 inch boards”? • Presenting numbers clearly is important in business/technical writing. • Various guidelines exist and may vary from profession to profession. • Appendix A.9 presents some standard guidelines that we’ll use in this class. Appendix A:9 Using Numbers Correctly • Use words for zero to nine. • Use words or numerals for numbers that can be expressed in one or two words (45 or forty-five). • Use numerals for numbers that would require more than two words (127 instead of one hundred twenty-seven). • Use numerals in visuals (tables, graphs, etc) and numbered lists. • EXCEPTION TO THE FIRST RULE: A document that contains a significant amount of numerical data, especially presented as numerals. • Never begin a sentence with a numeral (spell out the number or move it in the sentence). – NOT: The number of Europeans in significant debt is approximately 1 in 10. 1 in 16 Americans is in significant debt. – INSTEAD: The number of Europeans in significant debt is approximately 1 in 10. However, 1 in 16 Americans is significant debt. • For very large numbers, combine numerals and words (100 million, instead of 100, 000, 000). • Combine numbers and words to prevent misreading (three 6-inch bolts instead of 3 6 inch bolts). • Overall, be consistent. A test of thirty one control valves at a major factory revealed more than seventy significant operating deficiencies, and in another series of tests conducted on a random sample of 60 control valves, 88 percent exhibited substandard performance. In nineteen ninety three, a one hundred and eighty foot long, three hundred and twenty eight ton replacement span for the historic Grosse Island Bridge in Michigan was set in place in one piece, using the “sinking bridge” method. This machine offers a calculated mean time between failures (MTBF) above one hundred thousand hours, or more than eleven years if used twenty-four hours per day, three hundred and sixty five days per year. The population of the United States is now more than two hundred fifty billion. The temperature in Death Valley often exceeds one hundred degrees.