The Blue Book
of Grammar and Punctuation
Copyright 1997-2004 by Jane Straus. Used by permission.

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Writing Numbers



Rule 1. Use the semicolon in place of a period to separate two sentences where the conjunction has been left out.

Call me tomorrow; I will give you my answer then.
I have paid my dues; therefore, I expect all the privileges listed in the contract.

Rule 2. Do not use a semicolon in front of words such as therefore and however if they do not connect two complete sentences or are used as interrupters.

I would, therefore, like a response.
I would be happy, however, to volunteer for the Red Cross.

Rule 3. Use a comma or a semicolon before introductory words such as namely, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they are followed by a list of three or more items and preceded by a complete sentence

You may be required to bring many items; e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing. OR
You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.
  NOTE: i.e. means that is; e.g. means for example

Rule 4. If these introductory words are followed by fewer than three items, simply enclose them in commas.

You may be required to bring many items, for instance, sleeping bags.

Rule 5. Use the semicolon to avoid confusion where commas already exist.

Rule 5a. Use the semicolon to separate units of a series when one or more of the units contain commas.

This conference has people that have come from Boise, Idaho; Los Angeles, California; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Rule 5b. You may use a semicolon between two sentences that are joined by a conjunction but already have one or more commas within the first sentence.

When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.
If she can, she will attempt that feat; and if her husband is able, he will be there to see her



Rule 1. The numbers one through ten should be spelled out; use figures for numbers greater than ten.

I want five copies.
I want 15 copies.

Rule 2. With a group of related numbers where one number is above 10 in a sentence, write the numbers all in figures. Use words if all related numbers are 10 or below.

I asked for 5 pencils, not 50.
My ten cats fought with their one cat. Their cat won.
I asked for five pencils, not 50.

Rule 3. If the numbers are unrelated, then you may use both figures and words. One through ten should again be spelled out.

I asked for 30 pencils for my five employees.
My nine cavities are exceeded in number by my 14 teeth.
My ten toes exceed in number my one nose.

Rule 4. Always spell out simple fractions and use hyphens with them.

One-half of the pies have been eaten.
A two-thirds majority is required for that bill to pass in Congress.

Rule 5. A mixed fraction can be expressed in figures unless it is the first word of a sentence.

We expect a 5 1/2 percent wage increase.
Five and one-half percent was the maximum allowable interest.

Rule 6. The simplest way to express large numbers is best but be careful to be consistent within a sentence.

4 million dollars OR $4 million OR four million dollars (not $4,000,000)
You can earn anywhere from $500 to $5,000,000.
You can earn anywhere from $500 to $5 million.
You can earn from five hundred to five million dollars.
You can earn from $500 to five million dollars.

Rule 7. Write decimals in figures. Put a zero in front of a decimal unless the decimal itself begins with a zero.

The plant grew 0.79 of a foot in one year.
The plant grew only .07 of a foot this year because of the drought.

Rule 8. When writing out large numbers of five or more digits before the decimal point, use a comma where the comma would appear in the figure format. Use the word and only where the decimal point appears in the figure format.

$15,768.13 (Fifteen thousand, seven hundred sixty-eight dollars and thirteen cents)
$1054.21 (One thousand fifty-four dollars and twenty-one cents)
NOTE: The comma is now commonly omitted in four-digit whole numbers.

Rule 9. The following examples apply when using dates:

The meeting is scheduled for June 30.
The meeting is scheduled for the 30th of June.
We have had tricks played on us on April 1.
The 1st of April puts some people on edge.

Rule 10. Hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.

Example Forty-three people were injured in the train wreck. Twenty-three of them were hospitalized.





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