AP Style Numbers

In general you should spell out numbers one through nine in AP Style. Consider the following examples of AP Style numbers,

  • The Chicago White Sox finished second.
  • She had six months left of her pregnancy.

You should use figures for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things. Also use figures in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.

Use Figures For

Academic course numbers:

  • Calculus 2
  • English 101

Addresses:

  • 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Spell out numbered streets nine and under. For example,

  • The address is 5 Sixth St.
  • Go to the restaurant at 1500 32nd St.

See also AP Style Addresses.

Ages:

  • A 6-year-old boy
  • An 8-year-old car
  • A 4-year-old house

Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun. For example,

  • The 5-year-old boy

-but-

  • The boy is 5 years old

Also,

  • The boy, 5, has a sister, 10.
  • The race is for 3-year-olds.
  • The woman is in her 30s.
  • She is a 30-something.

-but-

  • Thirty-something to start a sentence.

See also AP Style Ages.

Planes, ships, and spacecraft designations:

  • B-2 bomber
  • Queen Elizabeth 2
  • QE2
  • Apollo 9
  • Viking 2

(Do not use hyphens.)

An exception to spelling out numbers for planes, ships, etc. is “Air Force One,” the president’s plane.

Use Roman numerals if they are part of the official designation. For example,

  • Titan I
  • Titan II

See also AP Style Aircraft Names, AP Style Boats, Ships, and AP Style Spacecraft Designations.

Centuries:

Use figures for numbers 10 or higher.

  • 21st century

Spell out for numbers nine and lower.

  • fifth century

Note, “century” is lowercase. For proper names, follow the organization’s usage,

  • 20th Century Fox
  • Twentieth Century Fund

Court Decisions:

  • The Supreme Court ruled 5-4.
  • A 5-4 decision.

The words “to” is not needed, except in quotations. Example,

  • “The court rules 5 to 4.”

Dates, Years, Decades:

  • Feb. 8, 2005
  • Class of ’99
  • The 1940s

For the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 9/11 is acceptable in all references.

Decimals, Percentages, and Fractions With Numbers Larger Than 1:

  • 7.2 magnitude quake
  • 3 ½ laps
  • 3.7 percent interest
  • 4 percentage points

Decimalization should not exceed two places in most text material. An exception is blood alcohol content, which is express in three decimals. For example,

  • .056

For amounts less than 1, precede the decimal with a zero. For example,

  • The cost of living rose 0.05 percent.

When the decimal is 1 or less, the type of measurement should be singular. For example,

  • 0.35 meter
  • 0.55 cubic feet
  • 0.75 kilometer

Spell out fractions less than 1, using hyphens between the words. For example,

  • two-thirds
  • three-fifths

In quotations, use figures for fractions. For example,

  • “He was 3 ½ seconds behind with 2 laps to go.”

See also AP Style Decimal Units, AP Style Fractions, and AP Style Percent.

Dimensions:

  • He is 5 feet 6 inches tall.
  • The 5-foot-6 man is here (“inch” is understood)
  • The 5-foot man
  • The basketball team signed a 7-footer.
  • The car is 17 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 5 feet high.
  • The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet.
  • The 9-by-12 rug.
  • A 9-inch snowfall.

Exception: a two-by-four. Spell out the noun, which refers to any length of building lumber 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide.

See also AP Style Dimensions.

Distances:

  • She walked 5 miles.
  • He missed a 10-foot jump shot.

Golf Clubs:

  • 3-wood
  • 7-iron
  • 3-hybrid (note hyphen)

Highway destinations:

  • Interstate 5
  • U.S. Highway 1
  • state Route 1A
  • Route 66 (Do not abbreviate “Route” and do not hyphenate.)

See also AP Style Highway Designations

Mathematical Usage:

  • Multiply by 4
  • Divide by 6
  • He added 2 and 2 but got 5.

Military Ranks:

Used as titles with names, military terms, and weapons.

  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Alan Markow
  • 1st Sgt. David Triplett
  • M16 rifle
  • 9 mm pistol (note the space)
  • 6th Fleet

In military ranks, spell out the figure when it is used after the name or without a name. For example,

  • Smith was a second lieutenant.
  • The goal is to make first sergeant.

See also AP Style Military Units.

Millions, Billions, Trillions Dollars:

Use a figure-word combination.

  • 1 million people, not one million
  • $2 billion, not two billion

Also note no hyphen linking numerals and the word million, billion, or trillion.

See also AP Style Millions, Billions, Trillions Dollars.

Monetary Units:

  • 5 cents
  • $5 bill
  • 8 euros
  • 4 pounds

See also AP Style Cents

Odds, Proportions, and Ratios:

  • 9-1 longshot
  • 3 parts cement to 1 part water
  • a 1-4 chance, but one chance in three

See also AP Style Betting Odds, AP Style Proportions, and AP Style Ratios.

Rank:

  • He was my No. 1 choice.

Note the abbreviation for “Number.” Do not use this abbreviation in names of schools or in street addresses. For example,

  • Public School 19

There is one exception, “No. 10 Downing St.,” which is the residence of Britain’s prime minister.

School Grades:

Use figures for grades 10 and above.

  • 10th grade
  • 12th grade

Spell out for first though ninth grades.

  • fourth grade
  • fifth-grader (note hyphen)

Sequential Designations:

  • Page 1, Page 20A
  • They were out of sizes 4 and 5.
  • Magnitude 6 earthquake
  • Rooms 3 and 4
  • Chapter 2
  • Line 1, but first line
  • Act 3, Scene 4, but third act, fourth scene
  • Game 1, but best of seven

See also AP Style Act Numbers, AP Style Chapters, AP Style Earthquakes, AP Style Line Numbers, AP Style Page Numbers, and AP Style Scene Numbers.

Political Districts:

  • Ward 9
  • 9th Precinct
  • 3rd Congressional District
  • 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

See also AP Style Congressional Districts and AP Style Political Divisions.

Recipes:

  • 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of milk

See also AP Style Recipes

Speeds:

  • 7 mph
  • winds of 5 to 10 mph
  • winds of 7 to 9 knots

Sports scores, Standings, and Standards:

  • The Giants defeated the Lions 14-7 (No comma between the team and the score).

In Golf

  • 3 up, but a 3-up lead, led 3-2
  • a 6-1-2 record (six wins, one loss, two ties)
  • par 3
  • 5 handicap
  • 5-under-par 67
  • he was 5 under par (or “5 under” with “par” understood)

In narrative, spell out nine and under except for yard lines in football and individual and team statistical performances.

  • The ball was on the 5-yard line.
  • Seventh hole
  • Three-point play, but a 3-point shot

In statistical performances, hyphenate as a modifier.

  • He completed 8 of 12 passes.
  • He made 5 of 6 (shots is understood).
  • He was 5-for-12 passing.
  • He had a 3-for-5 day.
  • He was 3-for-5.
  • He went 3-for-5 (batting, shooting, passing, etc., is understood).

Temperatures:

Use figures, except zero.

  • It was 8 degrees below zero or minus 8.
  • The temperature dropped from 38 to 8 in two hours.

See also AP Style Temperatures.

Times:

Use figures for time of day except for noon and midnight.

  • 1 p.m.
  • 10:30 a.m.
  • 5 o’clock
  • 8 hours
  • 30 minutes
  • 20 seconds
  • a winning time of 2:17.3 (two hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds)

Spell out numbers less than 10 standing alone and in modifiers.

  • I’ll be there in five minutes.
  • He scored with two seconds left.
  • An eight-hour day.
  • The two-minute warning.

See also AP Style Times, AP Style Time Sequences, and Is Noon AM or PM?

Votes:

  • The bill was defeated by a vote of 6 to 4.

-but-

  • The bill was defeated by a two-vote margin.

Spell out:

At the start of a sentence:

  • Fifty years was a long time to wait.
  • Twenty to 30 cars were involved in the accident.

The only exception is years.

  • 1995 was a very good year.

See also AP Style Years.

In indefinite and casual uses:

  • Thanks a million!
  • He walked a quarter of a mile.
  • One at a time
  • A thousand clowns
  • One day we will know
  • An eleventh-hour decision
  • Dollar store

In fanciful usage or proper names:

  • Chicago Seven
  • Fab Four
  • Big Three automakers
  • Final Four
  • The Four Tops

In formal language, rhetorical quotations, and figures of speech:

  • “Fourscore and seven years ago…”
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Ten Commandments
  • High-five
  • Day One

In fractions less than one that are not used as modifiers:

  • reduced by one-third
  • he made three-fourth of his shots.

Roman Numerals:

Roman Numerals may be used for wars and to establish personal sequence for people and animals.

  • World War I
  • Native Dancer II
  • King George V
  • Pope John Paul II

Also for certain legislative acts (Title IX). Otherwise, use sparingly. Except in formal reference, pro football Super Bowls should be identified by the year, rather than the Roman numerals.

  • 1969 Super Bowl, not Super Bowl III

Ordinals:

Numbers used to indicate order (first, second, 10th, 25th, etc.) are called ordinal numbers. Spell out first through ninth.

  • fourth grade
  • first base
  • the First Amendment
  • he was second in line

Use figures starting with 10th.

Cardinal Numbers:

Numbers used in counting or showing how many (2, 40, 627, etc.) are called cardinal numbers. The following separate entries additional guidance for cardinal numbers.

  • AP Style Amendments to the Constitution
  • AP Style Channel
  • AP Style Court Names
  • AP Style Decades
  • AP Style Election Returns
  • AP Style Fleet
  • AP Style Formula
  • AP Style Latitude and Longitude
  • AP Style Mile
  • AP Style Parallels
  • AP Style Proportions
  • AP Style Serial Numbers
  • AP Style Telephones Numbers
  • AP Style Weights

Some other punctuation and usage example for AP Style Numbers,

  • 3 ounces
  • 4-foot-long
  • 4-foot-fence
  • “The senator’s speech lasted 18 1/2 minutes,” she said.
  • DC-10 but 747B
  • the 1980s, but the ‘80s
  • the House voted 230-205 (fewer than 1,000 votes).
  • Jimmy Carter outpolled Gerald Ford 40,827,292 to 39,146,157 (more than 1,000 votes).
  • Carter outpolled Ford 10 votes to 2 votes in Little Junction (to avoid confusion with ratio)
  • No. 3 choice, but Public School 3
  • a pay increase of 12-15 percent

-or-

  • a pay increase of between 12 and 15 percent

-but-

  • from $12 million to $14 million
  • a ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-to-1 ratio
  • 1 in 4 voters
  • seven houses 7 miles apart
  • He walked 4 miles.
  • minus 10, zero, 60 degrees

Other Uses:

For uses not covered by these listings, spell out whole numbers below 10, and use figures for 10 and above.

  • They had three sons and two daughters.
  • They had a fleet of 10 station wagons and two buses.

In a Series:

Apply the standard guidelines:

  • They had 11 dogs, five cats, and 90 gerbils.
  • They had five four-room houses, 10 three-room houses, and 12 10-room houses.

 

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