Correct number format in UK business documents

Date number format 11.59pm December 2013Not sure which number format to use in your business document? Don’t worry – you’re in good company. Many people find this confusing, and there is a lot of contradictory advice out there. Remember – consistency is important, so if your company has a style guide, use that. If not, these guidelines will help clarify some of the most common problems:

When to write numbers as words

1. In text, spell out numbers up to and including nine
Please reply within five working days.

2. At the start of a sentence
Nineteen people attended the conference.

3. Approximate amounts
About a hundred people work at the factory.

4. Numbers showing position in a series
We came third in the competition.

When to write numbers as figures

1. In text, use figures for numbers above nine
There are 52 weeks in the year.

2. Dates & times
The meeting is scheduled to start at 11.30 am on 20 July.

3. Units of measurement, even those less than 10
The motorway is 9 miles away.
The selling price is £20.
A 5-year-old could read it.

4. Numbers modifying nouns
Page 72
Module 6

5. When numbers above and below 9 refer to the same subject
The research showed that 7 out of 10 women prefer our brand.

Do you have more questions about which number format to use? If so, write to me in the box below.

Good luck!


PS Do you or your organisation need help with any aspect of business writing? Visit my website for details of my business writing courses and one-to-one coaching.

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