A friend sent this to me. Unfortunately, it is part of the City Clerk’s webpage for the City of Apache Junction here in Arizona. Apache Junction already has a not-so-great reputation in the Valley of the Sun, but it is my current home. I’m not sure how this actually got published as it is a hot mess.
“No 1”? Really? I assume they mean “No one is allowed.” Six words later, they are breaking the Gregg Reference Manual rule on spelling out numbers from one to ten unless the number needs to stand out to be comprehended or is in statistical information. I don’t consider that sentence statistical information nor do I think that the numbers need to be used instead of the words to be comprehended. Then, the comma after “jurisdictions” should be a semicolon since the sentence is two independent clauses and the comma could be replaced by “and.” It could also be two separate sentences, but the way it is written is confusing. Come on, AJ, you’re not doing your reputation any favors!
One of the blog readers had a great question on the last post about numbers. I should have made it clear that in legal agreements and pleadings, using both words and figures for numbers leaves out any doubt about what number you are talking about–UNLESS there is an error in either the word or the figure version of the same number, so proofread those numbers carefully. For instance, when stating an amount of money, number, or a percentage in a legal document, you should write out the amount in words and then include the figures in parentheses.
Buyer agrees to pay Seller the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) upon the signing of this Agreement, fifty percent (50%) of the remaining balance thirty (30) days after the date of this Agreement, and the entire remaining balance sixty (60) days after the date of this Agreement.
When you use both words AND figures in this way, it is absolutely clear and leaves one less thing to be litigated later. Thank you to Kim for asking the question to allow me to clarify.
A quick post this week about numbers. Here are a few rules:
- Generally, spell out numbers one through ten and use figures for numbers over ten.
- We had three printers on my floor.
- There were 14 secretaries in the firm.
- When you have numbers both below ten and above ten, use figures for all of them.
- There were 4 paralegals working with the 20 associates.
- You can use figures for numbers one through ten when you want to make sure there is quick comprehension.
- Lines 1 through 3 on page 8 of the deposition should be highlighted.
- Candidate number 3 would be the best fit.
- Figures should always be used for statistical material, i.e., clock time, money, sports scores, academic grades, percentages, etc.
- The gum was on sale for $1 per pack.
- The Patriots won 4-2.
- Use words for fractions and nontechnicalornonemphatic references to age, periods of time, and measurements.
- My granddaughter just turned seven years old.
- The cost for the apartment was one-half of her monthly salary.
- Numbers in millions or higher should be the figure and the word representing the designation.
- There were at least 20 million people in the stadium.
These are the simple rules regarding numbers. If you have other questions about numbers or questions about other proofreading topics, please let me know at email@example.com.
This one is interesting because at first glance, it’s hard to tell what’s wrong, but when you really look, that’s some pretty fancy wheels for a vehicle that takes a 7″. That Barbie Corvette must be decked out!
Here is another example of the importance of proofreading not only the original draft, but the final copy of everything. I assume this was pretty embarrassing (and a waste of good advertising dollars) for this retailer.
A friend recently sent me an article in a recent ABA Journal where a paragraph began with a quotation, which started with a number:
My initial instinct was “There is no way that is correct.” My next thought was “Well, it IS a quotation.” My research indicates, however, that in most cases it is incorrect.
Most sources suggest that if you are going to start a sentence with a number, you spell the number out. However, a reader may lose interest by the time they get to the message if the number is too long. It is better to reword the sentence. For example:
- Twelve thousand four hundred and eight-two people are expected to post something on Facebook in the next half hour.
would be better stated:
- In the next half hour, 12,482 people are expected to post something on Facebook.
Note that the number in the examples above is completely fabricated.
It appears that most style guides and grammar experts suggest never beginning a sentence with a number (although some say you can use a number when you start a sentence with a year—most still disagree). It is better practice just to avoid starting sentences with numbers altogether. In our example from the ABA Journal, it might have been better stated:
Karen A. Overstreet, a judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, stated that “23,000 people in western Washington declared bankruptcy last year, and I’ve encountered a lot of bankruptcy debtors who have large amounts of student loans.”
It isn’t difficult to make things work so they are generally grammatically correct. It shows that you care about your writing so that people like me (and there are LOTS of us out there) who tend to read with a more “discerning” eye will appreciate your effort to make your work more readable.