Please, don’t repeat numbers!

The Scribe has noticed that some writers (you know who you are) have an irritating habit of spelling out numbers followed by a parenthetical that repeats those same numbers, e.g.:

  • This temporary restraining order expires ten (10) days from the date of this order.
  • Your reply to this email is due five (5) minutes from now.

Grrr … why do writers do this?  It seems that the historical reason is that repeating numbers back in ancient times helped to prevent fraud by making it harder to alter documents (you’d have to alter both forms of the number).  But now that we don’t have Bob Cratchit copying letters by hand in an under-heated “dismal little cell,” fraudulent documents are less a concern and there is simply no good reason to continue repeating numbers.  So please … don’t.

P.S.  If you are wondering whether to spell out a number in text or to just use the number, here is a simple rule:  if it is a one-digit number, make it a word, e.g.,

  • The Red Sox have won eight World Series.
  • The hated and despised Yankees have won 27 World Series.

That is all for now …

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