Which is correct:
Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Five was the year I was born.
1965 was the year I was born.
The rules about using numbers in written form seem to confuse a lot of people. Elements of using numbers can be confusing.
For the record, Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Five is the year I was born is correct.
Let me tell you why.
1) Numbers at the beginning of a sentence are always spelled out, which is why I spelled out the Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Five. Anytime the first word in a sentence is a number, you need to spell it out.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”C9s84″ via=”yes” ]Anytime the first word in a sentence is a number, you need to spell it out. Check this out for how to use numbers in your business writing.[/ctt]
But since that looks goofy to me, I tend to rearrange my sentences so I don’t have to spell out the number. For example, “I was born in 1965” is correct because the first word in the sentence is not a number. If I stick with the example at the top of this article, I need to spell it out.
2) When using numbers in a sentence, anything greater than ten should be used as a number, and anything ten or less should be the word. For example, “I would like two glasses of wine, please.” Or, “I need 12 more ice cubes in my drink, please.”
As you can imagine, there are exceptions!
– When using an address, I wouldn’t say, Four Main Street. I would say 4 Main Street.
– When using ages, I wouldn’t say that my grandson Theo is a one-year-old boy. Instead, I would say that my grandson Theo is a 1-year-old boy.
– When referring to hours, you also refer to the numeral instead of the word. Say, “The webinar is 1-hour long” instead of “one-hour long.”
– When using dates, you use the digit instead of the word.
– Temperature, percent, money, times, and dimensions are also digits instead of words regardless of the number
3) Numbers, in a casual sense, are spelled out regardless. It wouldn’t be correct to say, “I told you 1,000,000 times to stop exaggerating.” The word a million is used casually, so it would be correct to say, “I told you a million times to stop exaggerating.” Yes, a hundred is also used instead of 100 or a thousand instead of 1,000, etc.
4) Titles use numbers instead of words as well. That is why we see “The 3 Little Pigs” not “The Five Best Ways to Use Numbers in a Document.”
5) Multiple numbers in a sentence also need to be consistent when applying to the same thing or category if one of the numbers is greater than ten.
For instance, it would be incorrect to say, “This year, the Board of Directors consists of three women and 12 men.” It isn’t consistent; therefore, we need to change all the numbers to digits. “This year, the Board of Directors consists of 3 women and 12 men.”
The bottom line comes down to confusion for many. I hope these tips make your documents look more professional by showing your proper use of the English language.