Thirteen or 13?

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Paul Whybrow

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I'm in the final throes of what I hope is the last edit of my first novel. Having excised 8,600 filler words, I moved onto which words needed hyphens.

This made me realise that I'd committed a lazy (but common) typing error, as when I wanted to type an em dash to mark a break in a sentence, or an en dash for dates I'd used the hyphen key. The conventional QWERTY keyboard is inadequate in many ways, when it comes to punctuation, requiring one to use the numeric keyboard for foreign accent marks and the en and em dash.

An explanation of the differences:
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/2116/when-should-i-use-an-em-dash-an-en-dash-and-a-hyphen

How to type them: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/type-em-en-dashes-word-processor/

Having corrected that error, I'm tackling numbers. I was taught as a youngster, to write out all numbers up to one hundred, except for dates, but from 100 on it was OK to use the numerical form. Looking online, modern style guides offer conflicting advice. Some say to write numbers up to ten, but thereafter the numerical form is acceptable. This looks odd to me, as well as lazy, though I appreciate that it may make the reading process swifter.

Using a sentence from my novel, the way that it is now reads:

There'd only been five constables who'd died in the county in the whole of the twentieth century, and now a Detective Inspector lay murdered fourteen years into the twenty-first.

But if I followed the modern style guides it would be:

There'd only been five constables who'd died in the county in the whole of the 20th century, and now a Detective Inspector lay murdered 14 years into the 21st.

The corrected version looks more like outline notes to me, rather than a sentence fit for printing.

What do my fellow Colonists do when typing numbers?

 
At Evernight and Siren-BookStrand we write them out up to ten, and then write them as numbers after that. I would say be consistent in your own manuscript, as that's something easily fixed in an edit per house style.

Good advice, Carol Rose. The use of numerical forms is more common these days, what with text-speak, though it still looks like shorthand to me. Then again, writing numbers out can make sentences look too wordy.
 
Personally--and this is not tied to a style--I hate seeing numbers typed out and then numerical in the same few sentences. Pet peeve. Not that it's wrong, it just looks wrong. What I usually do is type them out unless its a crazy long number or a year/full date. And, except for a year, I always type it out in dialogue.
 
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Being writers we really should write the numbers. Twelve seventy-six looks a million times better than 1276. Just my view mind you. I am in the same camp as @Nicole Wilson when it comes to both being used. Annoys me almost as much as the overuse of contractions or using the word "very" outside of speech. Little and often (or never in the case of "very") but too many = lazy writing in my opinion.
 
Being writers we really should write the numbers. Twelve seventy-six looks a million times better than 1276. Just my view mind you. I am in the same camp as @Nicole Wilson when it comes to both being used. Annoys me almost as much as the overuse of contractions or using the word "very" outside of speech. Little and often (or never in the case of "very") but too many = lazy writing in my opinion.
Personally I prefer my years as numbers.
'He was born in 1276' is, for me, easier to assimilate than 'He was born in twelve seventy six.'
Unless of course there's something important about the exact date for instance,
eg; 'He was born in twelve seventy six'. That does indeed look miles better than 'He was born in 1276.' (The six in italics doesn't even appear different!)
 
Personally I prefer my years as numbers.
'He was born in 1276' is, for me, easier to assimilate than 'He was born in twelve seventy six.'
Unless of course there's something important about the exact date for instance,
eg; 'He was born in twelve seventy six'. That does indeed look miles better than 'He was born in 1276.' (The six in italics doesn't even appear different!)
I think genre has an impact on the decision too.
 
Generally I would have thought the written word except the year, ie 1996 would never be written as nineteen ninety six (hell I couldn't even spell that correctly), although 20th Century is easier to read than Twentieth Century. But that's just my opinion whilst hoping the net doesn't die on me again...
 
Dayjob rule is as @Carol Rose says - Write numbers up to ten and then use numerals. Although I'd always default to letters for twenty, thirty, etc (unless somebody highlights it in the proof read).
In speech though, always us the full written version. An example from Starwars as far as I can tell would be "Can we leave See Three Pee Oh behind?" (Actually I'm not sure about the capitalisation there!)

Oh, and that brings me on to my particular bugbear - what to do when using Mr and Mrs? I think it goes like this: "Don't worry, Missus Brown," said Mrs White.

Any thoughts on that?
 
In speech though, always us the full written version. An example from Starwars as far as I can tell would be "Can we leave See Three Pee Oh behind?" (Actually I'm not sure about the capitalisation there!)

Oh, and that brings me on to my particular bugbear - what to do when using Mr and Mrs? I think it goes like this: "Don't worry, Missus Brown," said Mrs White.

Any thoughts on that?
In the case of names with numbers in them, like C3PO where the digit is part of his actual name, I think it's fine to write it like that, especially in speech, or it looks odd. And you wouldn't write out the letter sound, regardless. Only the number 3. Which would make it look very odd. :) Something like that would pull a reader out of the story. Aside from that it's his name, the same as if he were called David. :) You'd keep his name spelled the same throughout.

As for Mrs., I use Mr. and Mrs. both in dialogue and narrative. That also may be a matter of house style.

Back to the numbers question, it's a matter of house style, but there are always exceptions to the general rule. Evernight doesn't make me write out years, for example. 1962 isn't nineteen-sixty-two in the narrative or dialogue, because it would look odd. I've seen years written out in books, however, so again I think that's a matter of editorial style.
 
I'd agree with Carol. It's always C3PO or R2D2, no one would follow it written differently. Also I can't see you writing "Mrs" in two different ways, there's no conformity in that and would look very odd to the reader. Different if in speech you have someone say "I see what you mean missus." That's different to addressing someone as Mrs McArthur. (No relation to King Arthur) ;)
 
In the case of names with numbers in them, like C3PO where the digit is part of his actual name, I think it's fine to write it like that, especially in speech, or it looks odd. And you wouldn't write out the letter sound, regardless. Only the number 3. Which would make it look very odd. :) Something like that would pull a reader out of the story. Aside from that it's his name, the same as if he were called David. :) You'd keep his name spelled the same throughout.

As for Mrs., I use Mr. and Mrs. both in dialogue and narrative. That also may be a matter of house style.

Back to the numbers question, it's a matter of house style, but there are always exceptions to the general rule. Evernight doesn't make me write out years, for example. 1962 isn't nineteen-sixty-two in the narrative or dialogue, because it would look odd. I've seen years written out in books, however, so again I think that's a matter of editorial style.

C3PO is a product and version, like a microwave, so as far as I can tell thats fine.

Like a PS3 or a PS4, everyone knows what they refer to.

I personally do like roman numerals, I think they give a story a certain vintage.
 
I use Roman numerals when displaying letters written by the characters, and would try to find a work-around in dialogue to avoid using numbers, like,
"I knew him back in 'sixty-two." Numbers in dialogue throw me, just to speak for my own individual preference.
I agree with Alistair though, and like what you said about "missus" versus "Mrs."

What was fun and confusing was trying to describe an Arabic man drawing Arabic numerals in the air to connote 14,000,000 fulus, so the character could convert that into the story equivalent of ducats, as it's set just before that came into use. Fortunately, it looks rather similar to 14,000,000:
١‎٤‎٠٠٠٠٠٠
 
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