Answered By: Katie Hutchison
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2020     Views: 269273

Use numerals to express:

   a. numbers 10 and above
      examples: 12 years old, the 57th trial, 12 cm wide

   b. numbers that precede a unit of measurement
      examples: 5-mg dose, 36.3 mm

   c. numbers that represent statistical or mathematical functions, fractional or decimal quantities, percentages, and ratios
      examples: multiplied by 5, .33 of the..., more than 5% of the sample..., a ratio of 15:1

   d. numbers that represent time, dates, ages, scores, points on a scale, exact sums of money and numerals
      examples: 1 hr 34 min., at 3:45 am, 2-year olds, score 5 on a 12 point scale, 5th century

Use numbers expressed as words:

   a. when the number begins a sentence, title, or heading
      examples: Forty-eight percent of the sample..., Twelve students improved...

   b. common fractions
      examples: one fifth of the class..., two-thirds majority

   c. universally accepted language
      examples: the Twelve Apostles, Five Pillars of Islam

For more information, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. You might also find help using the APA Style blog.

Comments (22)

  1. Also I believe that you write out numbers if numbers are already written in the sentence. So if you start a sentence with a number and you have another number you would write them out to keep the sentence flowing.

    For example:
    Wrong: Fourteen lucky women received 12 bracelets and 2 airline tickets when they celebrated their anniversaries today.

    Right: Fourteen lucky women received twelve bracelets and two airline tickets when they celebrated their anniversaries today.

    This is what I was taught. Am I correct?
    by Ronda on Oct 12, 2013
  2. Yes, sounds good! Thanks for the comment.
    by Katie Hutchison on Oct 14, 2013
  3. I used this sentence in a thesis paper, and my professor commented;"Use professional writing and underlined the 7,000 in the second sentence. Any idea what I did wrong?

    Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals. Of those 7,000 chemicals, 69 of them are known to cause cancer.
    by Chris on Apr 10, 2015
  4. Chris, that can be frustrating because you do seem to have followed the APA guidelines. However, your instructor may be using a different style as a guide or has different preferences. When you are writing for a course and something like this comes up it's best to ask the instructor directly for clarification and guidelines.
    by Heidi Beke-Harrigan on Apr 11, 2015
  5. Yes, the professor is saying don't use the 7,000 again. It is redundant. Of the 7,000 chemical found in cigarette smoke, 69 are known to cause cancer.
    by Jim on Apr 21, 2015
  6. Question 1:
    If i am referring to a chapter number, how do I write it correctly in apa? i.e. Referring back to chapter 3 (three)...

    Question 2:
    If I am referring to a grade level in education, do I say Grade 2 or Grade Two? Capitalized?

    Thank you so much for the help
    by Hayley on Jun 15, 2015
  7. Hayley,

    To answer your questions...
    1. For numbers less than tn you write out the number. For your example, you would write, "In chapter three, ..."

    2. Same answer for question two. You will write out the number. For example, "By Grade Two, children should..."
    by Katie Hutchison on Jun 16, 2015
  8. I know this is probably too late to help the original poster, but for anyone who might be looking for help with this in the future...

    "Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals; of these, 69 of them are known to cause cancer."

    Would be better sentence structure. Learning how to use semicolons correctly is a great thing, because VARIED sentence structure and lengths are something a proffessor looks for in a report
    by Jenna on Oct 03, 2015
  9. good articles you're so awesome
    by Obat Sipilis Tradisional on Oct 18, 2015
  10. I know that you express a percentage in words when it starts a sentence, for example: "Forty-eight percent of the workforce works is employed outside of the county." However, do you express the same percentage in words if the sentence begins with an introductory phrase? For example: "Because of the lack of industry in the county, forty-eight percent of the workforce is employed outside of the county."
    by JT on Oct 10, 2016
  11. For more information on writing numbers in a paper, see what the Purdue OWL has to say:
    by Katie Hutchison on Oct 10, 2016
  12. Hopefully someone is still paying attention to this thread. If I am referring to questions in a study (e.g., questions of a survey), do I refer to the question written out, or numerically?
    "Question two in the questionnaire asked participants..."
    "Question 2 in the questionnaire asked participants..."
    Also, will this change as I start talk about questions 11-32 because these numbers are higher than 10. My thought is I would need to keep it consistent throughout the research. Thank you in advance for any input!
    by Rachel on Feb 20, 2018
  13. @Rachel - this seems to be answered in the FAQ already.

    It is reiterated by other sources including the Purdue OWL ( and on this academic coaching website (
    by Katie Hutchison on Feb 20, 2018
  14. I am starting out a paragraph using the scientific name of a chemical compound that starts with two numbers. Is this acceptable APA style or do I need to restructure my paragraph and bring the chemical name in later?

    Thank you!
    by Matt S. on Nov 04, 2018
  15. @Matt - so your paper will read something like, "C2H5OH can be used for....". That is not problematic to start a sentence like that. You are fine. If you have further questions, stop by the Walsh U Library.
    by Katie Hutchison on Nov 04, 2018
  16. If a number is an identifier, as in Participant 3, should it be spelled out for APA?
    by Pat on Dec 03, 2018
  17. @Pat - I would assume it should not be spelled out. "Participant 3" is more like a name in that scenario.
    by Katie Hutchison on Dec 04, 2018
  18. How do I write two numbers in sequence? For example, "there are 10 3-person crews". If I follow the write out anything below 10 rule, and I follow the use a number in a measurement rule, I would think it should be as I wrote it in the example.
    by Danika on Mar 10, 2020
  19. According to the Purdue Owl: Use a combination of figures and words for numbers when such a combination will keep your writing clear. Unclear: The club celebrated the birthdays of 6 90-year-olds who were born in the city. (may cause the reader to read '690' as one number.) Clearer: The club celebrated the birthdays of six 90-year-olds who were born in the city.
    by Walsh Librarian on Mar 13, 2020
  20. Hello there. Can I fix the language of the numbers in this paragraph any further? Phillippe Ari├Ęs (1975) identified three periods of time which views on death develop. The initial period was between the sixth and the 12th century. The following period was from the 12th to the 17th, and the last period was from the 17th up to the 20th. The last period was split further into the 17th to the 19th, and the 20th century alone. Many thanks.
    by Sadiq on Apr 29, 2020
  21. @Sadiq - Use numerals for centuries, otherwise looks good.
    by Katie Hutchison on Apr 30, 2020
  22. Much appreciated!
    by Sadiq on May 03, 2020

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