University Communications

Numbers and Figures

Numerals and text

  • Spell out numbers one through nine in text.
  • When a number is the first word in a sentence, you may spell it out or reword the sentence. (Exception: Years are written as numerals at the start of sentences (e.g., 1973 was a great year.)
  • Numbers below 100 should be hyphenated when they consist of two words (e.g., fifty-three).
  •  When two or more numbers apply to the same category in a paragraph or a series of paragraphs, don’t use figures for some and spell out others.  Be consistent and use all figures (e.g., There are 25 graduate students in the philosophy department, 9 in the music department, and 8 in the comparative literature department, making a total of 42 students.)
  •  Place a comma after digits signifying thousands, except when reference is made to temperature (e.g., 1,160 students, or 2200 degrees).
  • No zero before a decimal point.


Numerals are preferred (e.g., He has a 3-year-old son.  He is 3 years old.).


See “Citing Publications Within Text, Captions.”


  • For very large sums of money, use figures with a dollar sign, and spell out million or billion (e.g., $1.8 million; between $1 and $2 billion).
  • When multiple donations are noted, the noun should be plural (e.g., $4 million in donations were given.).
  • When a donation is given in the form of a single grant, the noun should be singular (e.g., A $4 million grant was given.).

Height and weight

  • Figures are preferred when noting a person’s stature; hyphenate when used as an adjective (e.g., John is 6’2”, not John is six-foot-two-inches.).
  • Figures are preferred when noting a person’s weight; hyphenate when used as an adjective (e.g., The baby weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces. She had a 9-pound, 7-ounce baby.).


  • In general, all percentages should be shown as figures (e.g., 3 percent, 100 percent).
  • For percentages less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero (e.g., The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.).


Fewer vs. Less; 

  • Use fewer for items that can be counted (e.g., There are fewer calories in celery than in a donut.).
  • Use less for quantity that is measured (e.g., There is less fat in celery than in a donut.).

Less than vs. Below
Use less than, not below, when something is quantifiable (e.g., The total cost was less than $5,000, not The total cost was below $5,000.).

More than vs. Over
More than is used with figures (e.g., More than 100 people attended the party.). Over refers only to spatial relationships (e.g., The plane flew over the city.).