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How to Properly Write Numbers in English Essays - A Comprehensive Guide

When writing essays in English, it is important to adhere to certain rules and conventions, especially when it comes to expressing numbers. Properly writing numbers not only enhances the overall clarity and professionalism of your essay, but it also ensures that your readers can understand and interpret the information accurately.

One of the most basic rules to remember is that numbers from zero to nine should be spelled out, while numbers 10 and above should be written as numerals. For example, instead of writing "2 apples," it is more appropriate to write "two apples." Similarly, "12 students" should be written as "twelve students."

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Numbers that represent a specific measurement, time, score, or percentage should always be presented as numerals. For instance, "3 liters of water," "6:30 p.m.," "a score of 85," and "a 20% increase" should not be written out in words.

It is also important to consider the consistency and accuracy of the way you express numbers in your essay. If you choose to use numerals for numbers 10 and above, make sure to maintain this style throughout your essay. Additionally, be consistent in your use of commas and decimal points when dealing with large numbers or decimal fractions. For example, "1,000,000" and "2.5" should be written consistently throughout the essay.

By following these guidelines and paying attention to the proper way of writing numbers in English essays, you can ensure that your writing is clear, accurate, and professionally presented. Remember to check your essay for any inconsistencies or errors related to numbers before submitting it for review.

Rules for Writing Numbers in English Essays

When writing numbers in English essays, it is important to follow certain rules to ensure consistency and clarity. Here are some rules you should keep in mind:

  1. Spell out numbers from one to nine. For example, write "one," "two," "three," and so on.
  2. Use numerals for numbers 10 and above. For example, write "14," "27," "102," and so on.
  3. When writing a sentence that contains both a small number and a large number, it is generally recommended to use numerals for both to avoid confusion. For example, write "I have 2 dogs and 15 cats."
  4. In cases where you have a mix of numbers and words in a sentence, it is best to use numerals to maintain consistency. For example, write "There are 4 apples and eleven oranges."
  5. When writing a number at the beginning of a sentence, always spell it out. For example, write "Thirteen students attended the lecture."
  6. Use commas in large numbers to separate thousands, millions, billions, and so on. For example, write "1,000," "1,000,000," "2,500,000,000," and so on.
  7. For decimals, use a period to separate the whole number part from the decimal part. For example, write "3.14," "2.5," and so on.
  8. When referring to centuries in essays, use numerals. For example, write "The 19th century witnessed significant advancements in technology."
  9. For percentages, use the symbol "%" and numerals. For example, write "25%," "50%," and so on.
  10. Follow any specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or style guide, such as MLA or APA, as they may have specific rules for writing numbers in essays.

By following these rules, you can ensure consistency and clarity when writing numbers in your English essays. It is important to remember that different style guides may have slightly different rules, so be sure to consult the appropriate guide for your essay.

Spelling Out Numbers

When writing an essay in English, it is important to know how to properly spell out numbers. This helps to ensure clarity and consistency in your writing.

Generally, numbers from one to nine are spelled out in words. For example, instead of writing "2," you would write "two." This is especially true when the number is at the beginning of a sentence, or when it is used to denote a specific quantity or measurement.

On the other hand, numbers from 10 onwards are usually written as numerals. For instance, instead of writing "twenty," you would write "20." Exceptions to this include when the number is the first word of a sentence, or when it is being used to indicate a year or a figure in a mathematical equation.

It is also worth noting that when writing decimals, it is more common to use numerals rather than words. So, instead of writing "point five," you would write "0.5." Similarly, when writing percentages or fractions, numerals are generally preferred over words.

In some cases, it is also important to consider the style guide or preference of your target audience. Different style guides may have specific rules for spelling out numbers, so it is always a good idea to consult the appropriate guide.


There were five students in the class, but only three of them completed the assignment on time. The teacher gave us a list of 20 books to choose from for our research. The experiment lasted 12 hours, and the temperature reached 25 degrees Celsius.

Using Numerals

When writing numbers in English essays, it is important to follow certain conventions to ensure clarity and consistency. Here are some guidelines to help you use numerals correctly:

  1. For numbers under ten, write them out as words. For example, one, two, three.
  2. For numbers from ten onwards, use numerals. For example, 10, 15, 20.
  3. When combining numbers, use numerals for both. For example, 4 oranges and 2 apples.
  4. In scientific or technical writing, use numerals for measurements, statistics, and data. For example, 5 centimeters, 20% increase, 3.5 million.
  5. When writing dates, use numerals for the day and the year. For example, August 15, 2021.
  6. For fractions, use numerals. For example, 1/2, 3/4.
  7. For percentages, use numerals followed by the percent symbol (%). For example, 10%.
  8. When writing large numbers, use commas to separate thousands, millions, etc. For example, 1,000, 2,500,000.
  9. When writing decimals, use numerals. For example, 0.5, 3.14.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your use of numerals in your English essays is accurate and consistent. This will help to make your writing clear and easy to understand.

Exceptions to the Rules

While there are general rules for writing numbers in English essays, there are also a few exceptions to these rules. Here are some instances where the rules may not apply:

Exception Example
Ordinal numbers The 1st place winner, the 10th anniversary
Percentages and amounts of money 50%, $10,000
Decades, centuries, and years The 1980s, the 21st century, 1999
Addresses 34 Main Street, Apt. 5
Fractions 1/2, 3/4
Spelling out numbers at the beginning of a sentence Twenty-five people attended the event.
Consistency in a document or context If you are writing a document that already uses a specific format for numbers, it is important to be consistent throughout.

Remember that it is always advisable to follow the guidelines provided by your instructor or the style manual you are using for your essay. These exceptions should be considered within the context of the specific formatting rules you are required to follow.

Measurements and Addresses

When writing about measurements in English essays, it is important to use the correct formatting and units. For example, if you are discussing length, use the symbol for the unit of measurement after the number. For instance, 5 inches, 10 centimeters, or 3 meters.

Likewise, when writing about addresses, it is important to follow the standard formatting conventions. When referring to a specific street address, use the number for the house or building, followed by the street name. For example, 10 Downing Street. It is also common to include additional details such as the city, state, and postal code in the address. For instance, 123 Main Street, New York, NY 10001.

When writing about measurements or addresses, it is important to be consistent throughout your essay. Use the same formatting style for all measurements and addresses to maintain clarity and avoid confusion.