By: Ben Mudrak on Tue, 01/08/2013
Writing a scholarly manuscript often requires the use of numbers to express important information, particularly in the sciences. Although the use of numbers is largely straightforward, there are a few things to keep in mind. In this article, ‘numeral’ refers specifically to a number as it is written in mathematics (e.g., ‘4’).
Do not start a sentence with a numeral
When writing for publication, try to use spelled-out numbers at the beginning of a sentence in place of numerals. This distinction is not based on grammar, but rather the conventions of academic writing in English.
Be consistent in the use of numerals or spelled-out numbers
Other tips for number usage involve consistency within your manuscript. As shown above, each number can be written as a numeral or a word. Many authors choose to use numerals for large numbers (say, those over 10) but words for small numbers. Either form is typically fine, but it is best to be consistent with your choice.
Other tips for consistency with numerals
Here are two other ways to make sure that your numerals are consistent within your manuscript. Consistency in your formatting choices is one way to demonstrate your attention to detail. Always consult your target journal’s style sheet to see what they prefer.
We hope that this tip will provide some guidance for the use of numbers in your writing. If you have specific questions about the numbers in your text, write to us by email at AskAnExpert@aje.com. As always, AJE wishes you the best of luck with your research and publication!
Modified from version originally published on AJE’s Expert Edge blog.
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