Numbers

General guidelines   Commas vs full stops   Units of measurement   Currency (money)   Symbols   Ranges   Fractions   Dates   Time spans   Time 

General guidelines

When to write out numbers

Note: These rules apply unless you are quoting a source that does otherwise. Particular academic fields (for example, statistics) may have their own guidelines. 

As a general rule, you should write low numbers (ten and below) in words and larger numbers (11 and above) in figures. However, round numbers are usually spelled out (twenty, thirty, forty, from one thousand to five million).

Correct example Only nine students applied for the job
Incorrect example Only 9 students applied for the job

Correct example There were eight students and two lecturers 
Incorrect example There were 8 students and two lecturers

Korrekt sætning There were 85 students in the lecture hall
Incorrect example There were eighty-five students in the…  


Large numbers

With hundred and thousand you have the choice of using figures or words – but you should aim to be consistent. Million and billion may be combined with figures: 2.5 million, 3 million, 31 billion.

Note: The best way to express large numbers is the simplest way.

 300 people / three hundred people
Incorrect example 3 hundred people

 EUR 3,000 / three thousand euros
Incorrect example EUR 3 thousand


At the beginning of a sentence

Do not start a sentence with a figure or a symbol followed by a figure. Either write the number out in full or, if this doesn’t work, change the word order of the sentence: 

Korrekt sætning Ninety-nine per cent of the population were…
Incorrect example 99% of the population were…

Korrekt sætning The fact is that 99 per cent of the population…       
Incorrect example The fact is that ninety-nine per cent of the…

Korrekt sætning Twenty professors from around the world were…    
Incorrect example 20 professors from around the world were… 

Commas vs full stops

 Use commas to separate thousands (4,000,000) and full stops to separate fractions (3,000.5 or 2.5 million)

 Note: Opposite of Danish usage!

Korrekt sætning The number pi begins with 3.1415926
Incorrect example The number pi begins with 3,1415926

Correct example His annual salary is DKK 444,500.59  
Incorrect example His annual salary is DKK 444.500,59


Exceptions

Numbers that do not take commas:

  • Serial numbers
  • page numbers
  • ZIP codes and phone numbers.

Units of measurement

As a rule, use figures with units of measurement that are denoted by symbols or abbreviations.

Correct example DKK 50,000
Correct example 250 kW
Correct example 205 g
Correct example 5ºC
Correct example £500,000


If you choose to spell out the measure, the numbers do not also have to be spelled out but may be written with figures:

Correct example 250 kilowatts
Correct example 500 metres
Correct example fifty/50 euros
Correct example two hundred and fifty/250 kilowatts
Correct example five/5 degrees Celsius


Spacing

With measures denoted by symbols (£ $ € % ºC ), there should be no space between the symbol and the number. But with measures denoted by abbreviations (DKK/EUR/mm/kWh/km/h), there should be space between the measure and number.


Measurement spelling

  • Write gram, kilogram (not gramme, kilogramme)
  • However, use tonne not ton (‘ton’ refers to the non-metric measure)
  • Write metre for the unit of length – meter as a noun (gas meter).

Currency (money)

When to use currency codes

Use the official currency codes in official and academic contexts (press releases about research grants, reports etc.)

Correct example  DKK 700
Correct example  EUR 700

Incorrect example  700 kr.
Incorrect example  700 kroner
Incorrect example  700 kroners
Incorrect example  700 crowns
Incorrect example  700 DKK


In less formal contexts, write ‘kroner’ (abbreviated ‘kr.’) or 'euros'. Do not capitalise ‘euro’ or ‘dollars’ or any other currency. 

Correct example 45 kroner
Correct example She owes me 45 euros.
Correct example 45 kr.

Incorrect example 45 kroners
Incorrect example 45 crowns
Incorrect example 30 Euros 


When to convert to another currency

Consider converting DKK to EUR (or another currency, depending on your audience) in contexts in which your audience can’t be assumed to have an accurate sense of the value of our local currency.

Symbols

Per cent (%)

In texts for a general audience/non-scientific texts, you should write out the percentage symbol as per cent (British spelling).

Correct example Fifty-three per cent of the students were female.
Correct example The department has managed to reduce costs by 27 per cent.

In texts that contain a lot of statistics, tables, sums, etc. it makes more sense to use the symbol (%).

Correct example Domestic revenue increased 12% for the year to $4.6 billion, and domestic operating cash flow grew 11% to $1.1 billion. 

 Note: There should be no space between the symbol and the number.


 Section (§)

In Danish, the symbol § most often refers to a section in an act of law or ministerial order (lovparagraf). (Note that paragraf is translated ‘clause’ in treaties, by-laws and collective agreements, and that the symbol § also refers to a clause in a contract).

Danish:  ...jf. Universitetslovens § 4, stk. 3...
English: ...pursuant to section 4(3) of the University Act... 

Ranges

Abbreviated form

Do not repeat the symbol if the unit of measurement does not change.

Correct example €20–30 million
Incorrect example €20–€30 million

Correct example 10–70°C
Incorrect example 10°C–70°C


If the symbol or abbreviation changes, however, leave a blank space on either side of the dash.

Correct example 100 kW – 40 MW
Incorrect example 100kW–40MW

Correct example 900 KB – 2 MB
Incorrect example 900 KB–2 MB

Note: Do not leave space between the symbol and the number or the dash and the numbers. Use an unspaced en dash to separate the two elements in the range. See Dashes for a more general discussion of the types of dashes and their uses.


Written out

When a range is written out, you should write from … to / between … and instead of inserting a dash. You should repeat symbols and multiples (i.e. thousand, million, etc.):

Correct example from EUR 20 million to EUR 30 million
Incorrect example from EUR 2030 million

Correct example between 10°C and 70°C
Incorrect example between 1070°C

Fractions

Always spell out simple fractions and hyphenate them.

Correct example One-half of the pies have been eaten.


Insert hyphens in fractions used as adverbs or adjectives. Don't hyphenate noun forms.

Correct example two-thirds completed (adverb)
Correct example a one-third increase (adjective)
Correct example an increase of two thirds (noun)
Incorrect example Two-thirds of the students completed the paper on time. (noun)

Write out fractions in combination with words.

Correct example two-thirds completed
Incorrect example 2/3 completed


 Decimal marks

In English, the decimal fractions are separated by points – in contrast to Danish decimal commas.

Correct example Right: 3.5%
Incorrect example Wrong: 3,5%

Dates

Remember that the date comes before the month in British English (dd/mm/yyyy).

Correct example 16 September 2013
Correct example 16/09/2013
Incorrect example September 16th 2013

Always write a simple figure for the day followed by the month (spelt out in official/formal contexts), and do not separate the day, month and year with commas.

Correct example 23 July 1997
Incorrect example 23rd of July 1997

Correct example Thursday 24 December 2012
Incorrect example Thursday, December 24th, 2012

Correct example The semester commences on Monday 1 September 2014
Incorrect example The semester commences on Monday the 1st of September, 2014

Use all four digits when referring to specific years (i.e. 1997 not ’97) and always spell out the month. However, in footnotes, itineraries, etc. where space is at a premium, the month can be written as a number (07/08/2012). Please be aware that this format can potentially be very confusing for Americans, who write the month before the date.


 Numbering the weeks of the year

Non-Danish speakers do not normally divide up the year into numbered weeks. Instead of ‘week 38’, you should write ‘the week commencing 16 September’ or ‘w/c 16 Sept' unless you are absolutely certain your readers are familiar with the Danish convention.


Avoiding redundancy

 If the year in question is absolutely clear from the context, the year may be left out.

Correct example On 23 July 2001, the department did this ... but subsequently on 2 August, it did something else.

Time spans

Decades

When referring to decades, don’t include an apostrophe before the final ‘s’ (see Apostrophes).

Correct example the 1990s,1970s, 1980s
Incorrect example the 1990’s,1970’s, 1980’s


 Centuries

As a rule, you should write centuries out in full:

Correct example In the nineteenth century
Correct example twentieth century
Incorrect example 21st century cars are hard to imagine.


The beginning of a sentence

Do not start a sentence with a figure. Either write the number out in full or change the word order of the sentence.

Correct example Twenty-first century cars are ugly
Correct example Cars of the 21st century are ugly
Incorrect example 21st century cars are ugly


Time ranges

Use an unspaced en dash to denote a time range. 

Correct example 1870­–1901
Correct example 1905–1910


In running text, you should write out date ranges.

Correct example From 1990 to 1995 he was employed at …
Incorrect example From 1990–95

Correct example between 1990 and 1995
Incorrect example between 1990–95

Correct example 1990 to 1995 inclusive
Incorrect example 1990–95 inclusive


Avoiding redundancy

In lists, resumes, etc. it makes sense to use a dash to denote the range instead of writing it out. For the second figure, you should not repeat the century if it is the same, but you should always include the decade:

Correct example 1914–18
Incorrect example 1914–1918

Time

The 24-hour clock (military time) is generally easier for non-native speakers of English to understand than the 12-hour clock. For this reason, we recommend that you avoid using pm and am in AU-related texts as a general rule, particularly in conference programmes, schedules and meeting agendas.

Write times with a colon between hours and minutes, without adding hrs, am/pm or o’clock.

Correct example The meeting starts at 14:00
Incorrect example The meeting starts at 2 o’clock

Correct example The lecture starts at 10:00
Incorrect example The lecture starts at 10 am

Correct example The movie didn’t end until 23:00
Incorrect example The movie didn’t end until 11 pm


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