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MLA Guide for Writing Numbers in Academic Papers


✔Use words to spell out numbers that can be written in one or two words.

to spell out numbers that start a sentence.  NEVER begin a sentence with a numeral!


✔Use numerals 

  • for numbers that are followed by a technical unit of measurement.

  • for numbers you are comparing or listing more than one. (e.g. 7 out of 12)

  • if they are paired with abbreviations or symbols. (e.g. 27 lbs.)

  • in decimal fractions.

  • in page references.

  • in addresses.

  • in dates.


✔To form the plural of a number, treat the word like an ordinary noun. (e.g. sixes, sevens)

✔You can use a mix of words and numerals if the number is large (e.g. 23 million)

✔Be sure to maintain consistency by expressing related numbers in similar style.

✔Use hyphens in two-word numbers up to ninety-nine. (e.g. one hundred fifty-eight thousand)

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