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Old 11-11-2014, 02:06 PM   #1
Ldy_Sea
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Numbers or Numerals

When writing a story, how do you decide if you should type two or 2?

Does it matter if it's spoken "Two" or "2" or narration?

Does it matter if it's an address, phone number or someone listing items?

Thanks for your input.
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:26 PM   #2
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In most cases, you would write them out. But, yes, there are quite a few exceptions: addresses, phone numbers, percentages, time, days in dates, years, specific numbers over 100, mathematical numbers, numbers going to decimal points, page and chapter numbers, numbers behind proper names and titles (often rendered in Roman numerals, though).

So, it's not easy to determine what/when. If you have a Chicago Manual of Style, it's covered in Chapter 9.
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:44 PM   #3
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I had to learn this when I began writing. The source pilot referenced is the accepted authority. Not to contradict him but enhance his statement, some of his exceptions are NOT given in numbers when beginning a sentence. In dialogue, numbers should be written out unless exceptionally awkward but convention accepts a wide interpretation.
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldy_Sea View Post
When writing a story, how do you decide if you should type two or 2?

Does it matter if it's spoken "Two" or "2" or narration?

Does it matter if it's an address, phone number or someone listing items?

Thanks for your input.
Generally speaking, if the number is less than twenty (ie., the word/s would be hyphenated, you write them out:-

"She had three skirts"
"She had 47 pairs of shoes"
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Handley_Page View Post
Generally speaking, if the number is less than twenty (ie., the word/s would be hyphenated, you write them out:-

"She had three skirts"
"She had 47 pairs of shoes"
Not in American humanities style.(Is this according to British style? An authority on that to cite?) Forty-seven pairs of shoes. As I noted in my post (citing chapter 9 of the CMS), American humanities writing (which includes fiction and most nonfiction) doesn't move away from writing the number out until 101--and even then writes it out if it wasn't meant as a precise number.
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
Not in American humanities style.(Is this according to British style? An authority on that to cite?) Forty-seven pairs of shoes. As I noted in my post (citing chapter 9 of the CMS), American humanities writing (which includes fiction and most nonfiction) doesn't move away from writing the number out until 101--and even then writes it out if it wasn't meant as a precise number.
At one point I had learned/been told that the rule was to write out numbers under thirty, but I've taken to writing out anything under one hundred, aside from exceptions you noted, like house numbers, etc.
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by PennLady View Post
At one point I had learned/been told that the rule was to write out numbers under thirty, but I've taken to writing out anything under one hundred, aside from exceptions you noted, like house numbers, etc.
I've never encountered the rule of either twenty or thirty. The APA (American Psychological Association) uses 10. But the APA is for scientific writing. That's not what anyone is doing here at Literotica. There are some American publishers that go their own way on this, following the APA style--but there are fewer and fewer doing that.

What I REALLY can't understand at Literotica is the persistent habit of answering questions like this--how it's best done--with just opinions not backed up with any sort of authority when the authorities have already been cited.

But this is Literotica.

It's not like I respond to these questions with what I think or want. I go look it up in the same authorities the publishers are using. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that the one asking the question wouldn't have asked it if they weren't looking for the most acceptable practice at Literotica and in publishing.
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:04 PM   #8
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Here is a link, specific to numbers, from the online GrammarBook:
http://www.grammarbook.com/numbers/numbers.asp.

Language is ever evolving, which mean the rules governing grammar usage are evolving, so what was the accepted standard several decades past may no longer be applicable.

That being said, GrammarBook is a damned decent resource for answering grammar questions.
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:06 PM   #9
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When in doubt, I always defer to the Chicago Manual of Style (as already mentioned).

The exception being if there's some compelling reason to do otherwise based on the needs of what I'm writing.
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1sickbastard View Post
Here is a link, specific to numbers, from the online GrammarBook:
http://www.grammarbook.com/numbers/numbers.asp.

Language is ever evolving, which mean the rules governing grammar usage are evolving, so what was the accepted standard several decades past may no longer be applicable.

That being said, GrammarBook is a damned decent resource for answering grammar questions.
The CMS republishes just as often as publishers are willing to adjust their styles. (More often than most, probably--publishers--and folks here--for instance, are still not happy with the dropping of italics for thoughts by the latest CMS, which is only four years old, incidentally).
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
I've never encountered the rule of either twenty or thirty. The APA (American Psychological Association) uses 10. But the APA is for scientific writing. That's not what anyone is doing here at Literotica. There are some American publishers that go their own way on this, following the APA style--but there are fewer and fewer doing that.

What I REALLY can't understand at Literotica is the persistent habit of answering questions like this--how it's best done--with just opinions not backed up with any sort of authority when the authorities have already been cited.
I can't remember where I learned it exactly. I would guess it was from my sophomore year English teacher, because as I recall, she was big on specific rules like that. But that's just my best guess and I'm not saying she was correct.

I would imagine people are offering not so much opinions as what they were taught, or at least what they think they were taught.

I wasn't arguing against your citation; I was just saying what I'd learned and noting I now went along with the CMS style even if I didn't know I was at first.
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PennLady View Post
I wasn't arguing against your citation; I was just saying what I'd learned and noting I now went along with the CMS style even if I didn't know I was at first.
Yep, I understood that.

Just went on to the craziness of passing one's unsupported opinions and bad habits on to someone else rather than either looking it up or just not weighing in when questions like this arise.

(And I'm waiting for someone to post that I was making an assumption that Ldy Sea wanted the American style version when she asked--considering she's standing in front of an American flag in her avatar. )
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldy_Sea View Post
When writing a story, how do you decide if you should type two or 2?

Does it matter if it's spoken "Two" or "2" or narration?

Does it matter if it's an address, phone number or someone listing items?

Thanks for your input.
The two of you.
The 2 of you.
The II of you.

All have different meanings in context even though they present the same information.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:05 AM   #14
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I think sr veers on the side or writing out numbers in fiction wherever possible. Also, sr is quite right to cite the CMS but I throw in my 2.

When reading fiction, I prefer to have numerals spelt out as much as possible. Using numbers means the reader has to mentally translate figures in to text which can jar.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by elfin_odalisque View Post
I think sr veers on the side or writing out numbers in fiction wherever possible. Also, sr is quite right to cite the CMS but I throw in my 2.

When reading fiction, I prefer to have numerals spelt out as much as possible. Using numbers means the reader has to mentally translate figures in to text which can jar.
I'm not sure I agree.

When posting a story on Literotica, you are writing a story to be read on a screen. I think you should alter your writing style slightly to recognise that the text will not be read in a printed format.

The main difference is that paragraphs should be shorter than in print.

But numerals? Despite the style gurus, I think it depends on the significance of the number to the story. If it is a number from one to ten, then spell it out.

Between ten and twenty, probably spell it. Twenty-one onwards - use figures - 21, 96, 1,005 etc UNLESS the actual number is a significant part of the plot then write it in full e.g.

"He had kissed her ninety-six times since they met, and remembered every one vividly. But would they ever reach one hundred kisses? Their recent argument made that unlikely..."

When reading on a screen, I think your eyes would skip over any large figure, whether spelled out or in numerals, unless it is obviously important.

Style guides are for published texts, not for e-texts.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PayDay View Post
The two of you.
The 2 of you.
The II of you.

All have different meanings in context even though they present the same information.
If they have different meanings contextually, then they are presenting different information...

The two of you make a lovely couple.

The 2 of you have to agree on which personality gets to occupy your body at which times.

The II of you, "Juniour," if you prefer, is a credit to the family name.
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Old 11-12-2014, 12:53 PM   #17
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I don't see where being e-text has anything to do with how you render numbers. There probably isn't any other departure from norm in style that intrudes my reading of a short story than nonconventional use of numbers. Stops me right in my tracks. And it makes no difference at all to me that it was on the computer screen.

Of course, as in most things, your mileage may vary.
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Old 11-12-2014, 01:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
I don't see where being e-text has anything to do with how you render numbers. There probably isn't any other departure from norm in style that intrudes my reading of a short story than nonconventional use of numbers. Stops me right in my tracks. And it makes no difference at all to me that it was on the computer screen.

Of course, as in most things, your mileage may vary.
US English is more prescriptive about usage than British English. There are no completely acceptable conventions in British English, only recommended usage.

In British English, whatever works is generally OK and acceptable.
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Old 11-12-2014, 01:20 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by oggbashan View Post
I'm not sure I agree.

When posting a story on Literotica, you are writing a story to be read on a screen. I think you should alter your writing style slightly to recognise that the text will not be read in a printed format.

The main difference is that paragraphs should be shorter than in print.

But numerals? Despite the style gurus, I think it depends on the significance of the number to the story. If it is a number from one to ten, then spell it out.

Between ten and twenty, probably spell it. Twenty-one onwards - use figures - 21, 96, 1,005 etc UNLESS the actual number is a significant part of the plot then write it in full e.g.

"He had kissed her ninety-six times since they met, and remembered every one vividly. But would they ever reach one hundred kisses? Their recent argument made that unlikely..."

When reading on a screen, I think your eyes would skip over any large figure, whether spelled out or in numerals, unless it is obviously important.

Style guides are for published texts, not for e-texts.
An e-text is a published text. The CMS states that a published work may be produced and delivered in the traditional way -- printed on paper and bound -- or conveyed in a digital format and displayed on a screen.
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Old 11-12-2014, 01:52 PM   #20
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An e-text is a published text. The CMS states that a published work may be produced and delivered in the traditional way -- printed on paper and bound -- or conveyed in a digital format and displayed on a screen.
True. But they are read differently.

Reading Charles Dickens or worse Bulwer-Lytton as an e-text is more difficult than as a printed page.
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:11 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by oggbashan View Post
US English is more prescriptive about usage than British English. There are no completely acceptable conventions in British English, only recommended usage.

In British English, whatever works is generally OK and acceptable.
That hasn't been my experience in editing for both U.S. and UK (including Oxford) publishers. The UK publishers have been more persnickety and pedantic, as a rule.

I also would hardly think that U.S. readers are more demanding than UK readers are.

But, again, it's all in the individual perspective, I think.
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:16 PM   #22
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That hasn't been my experience in editing for both U.S. and UK (including Oxford) publishers. The UK publishers have been more persnickety and pedantic, as a rule.

I also would hardly think that U.S. readers are more demanding than UK readers are.

But, again, it's all in the individual perspective, I think.
I think that could be the UK publishers' preferences in the absence of an equivalent of the Chicago Manual. They each set their own rules, and authors have to follow the house style, whatever that is.

That doesn't stop ungrammatical crap being published in the UK.
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:20 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by oggbashan View Post
I think that could be the UK publishers' preferences in the absence of an equivalent of the Chicago Manual. They each set their own rules, and authors have to follow the house style, whatever that is.

That doesn't stop ungrammatical crap being published in the UK.
Oxford uses the Oxford manuals (naturally). The books I did for Continuum used the CMS.
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:57 PM   #24
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That doesn't stop ungrammatical crap being published in the UK.
That's probably equally true on both sides of the Atlantic. That doesn't mean, however, that writers who take pride in their work and want to connect as best they can with readers will follow that path or that writers advising other writers will be so self-absorbed that they will counsel just doing anything they want.

When a writer takes the effort to ask what the best practice is as was done on this thread, I don't rush to the judgment that they aren't interested in knowing the best practice. Otherwise, they wouldn't need to ask. They'd just do whatever they damn well wanted--and Lit. would probably publish it.
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Old 11-13-2014, 07:14 AM   #25
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That's probably equally true on both sides of the Atlantic. That doesn't mean, however, that writers who take pride in their work and want to connect as best they can with readers will follow that path or that writers advising other writers will be so self-absorbed that they will counsel just doing anything they want.

When a writer takes the effort to ask what the best practice is as was done on this thread, I don't rush to the judgment that they aren't interested in knowing the best practice. Otherwise, they wouldn't need to ask. They'd just do whatever they damn well wanted--and Lit. would probably publish it.
You gave the correct and definitive US advice in post #2, and the CMS should be followed by US-based writers.

We Brits don't have the CMS, nor an equivalent that has the same authority. The Oxford books are recommendations, not definite rules.

When writing British English, or any other variety of English except US, authors have to decide for themselves what is 'correct'. If the work is to be published for money, either as an e-text or a printed book, then the publisher's preferences are important. Otherwise? We Brits are reduced to our own idea of what seems 'right'.

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