Section 8: Numbers

8.1 General rules

In running text, spell out numbers one through nine. For 10 and above use numerals.

Exceptions (always use numerals):

measurements that use abbreviations or symbols
quantities consisting of whole numbers and fractions
course units
grade-point averages

Always spell out numbers that begin sentences.

For numbers in official names, follow the organization’s spelling style even when it is at odds with UVic practice.

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8.1.1 Ordinals

The above practices apply to ordinal numbers as well.

Spell out ordinal numbers when referring to year of study.

Surita was in her fourth year of study.

When using the abbreviated form of ordinals, place numerals and letters on the same line. Do not use superscript.

12th not 12th

Streets that are named with ordinals should also follow the general rule.

First Street, 37th Avenue.

8.1.2 Numbers with four or more digits

In numerals with four or more digits, use commas to separate groups of three digits except house, telephone, page, year and other serial numbers.

1,200; 1234 Yates Street; 1-800-456-6789

Very large numbers can use a mixture of numerals and spelled out numbers.

2.3 million, 458 billion

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8.1.3 Currency

Always use numerals to express currency.

Canadian currency is expressed in numerals accompanied by the appropriate symbols ($ and ¢).

Note that zeros after a decimal point should only be used if they appear in context with other fractional amounts.

Prices ranged from $0.95 to $1.00.

Very large amounts may be expressed with a mixture of numerals and spelled-out numbers and should appear with the currency symbol.

$4 million, $8.97 billion

Please note that there is no space between the currency symbol and the numeral.

When referring to foreign currency in specific numerical amounts, use the three-letter currency code (in upper case) instead of the currency symbol. A complete list of currency codes can be found on the website of the International Standards Organization by searching for “ISO 4217.”

USD 42.78
EUR 123.00

8.1.4 Decimals

Use a zero before a decimal point when the value is less than one.

0.5, –0.62

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8.1.5 Fractions

Use fraction characters (or superscript/subscript) whenever possible instead of full-sized numerals separated by a slash.

8½ not 8 1/2

Simple fractions that are not mixed numbers should be spelled out.

When a fraction is considered a single quantity, it is hyphenated.

She has read three-quarters of the book.

However, when the individual parts of a quantity are in question, the fraction is spelled without the hyphen.

We cut the cake into four quarters.

Quantities consisting of whole numbers and fractions should be expressed in numerals.

8 ½ x 11 in. paper

8.1.6 Percentages

Percentages should always be given in numerals. If the text includes numerous percentage figures, the symbol % is appropriate. Otherwise, use the word “per cent.”

In tables, it is acceptable to use the symbol.

There is no space between the numeral and the symbol %.

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8.1.7 Plurals of numerals

Spelled-out numbers form their plurals like other nouns.

the Terrible Twos

Bad things always happen in threes.

8.1.8 Ranges (inclusive numbers)

An en dash (a dash slightly longer than a hyphen) between two numbers implies “up to and including” or “through.”

Please refer to pages 45–72.

See Punctuation and spelling: Dashes and hyphens.

If “from” or “between” is used before the pair of numbers, the en dash should not be used; instead, “from” should be followed by “to” or “through,” “between” by “and.”

from 45 to 63
between 1898 and 1910

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8.2 Dates and time

The following rules for dates and times apply within the body of text. In calendars, tables, forms or graphs where space is extremely tight, short forms and figures may be used

8.2.1 Formatting dates

Specific dates within the body of a text may be written in either of two ways.

Saturday, Sept. 19, 1998
Wednesday, 25 November 1999

For an all-numerical date format, use the year-month-day format recommended by the Government of Canada, the Standards Council of Canada and ISO 8601. This format is particularly useful where machine-readable dates are needed, as in forms, spreadsheets and (electronic) date stamping, e.g. for successive drafts of a document.


8.2.2 Abbreviating months

Abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when standing alone or with year alone.

December 1999
August is a hot month.

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8.2.3 Academic year

Indicate the academic year according to this format:


8.2.4 Centuries

When writing about centuries, spell out the first nine as words, and use digits for 10 and above.

the fifth century
the 19th century

8.2.5 Decades

Decades may be spelled out (as long as the century is clear) or expressed in numerals.

the nineties, the ’90s

When writing the names of decades in numerals, do not use an apostrophe before the “s.” An apostrophe precedes the shortened numerical form of the decade.

the 1920s, the 1980s, the ’80s, the mid-1960s

8.2.6 Eras

The preferred methods of expressing eras are the culturally neutral terms CE (common era) and BCE (before common era) instead of the Christian AD and BC.

8.2.7 Holy days and holidays

Use the word “holidays” to refer to statutory holidays and non-religious holidays. Use the term “holy days” to refer to dates marked by religious observances. A list of religious holy days is available on the equity website.

8.2.8 Hours

Hours are written numerically, with no zeros. Do not capitalize a.m. and p.m.

9 a.m.
11 p.m. but 11:45 p.m.
noon (not 12 noon, the 12 is redundant)

8.2.9 Ordinals

When writing dates without the year, do not use the ordinal form.

Feb. 15 not Feb. 15th

8.2.10 Ranges of dates

When writing about periods of time over years, write the numbers out using an en dash (a dash slightly longer than a hyphen) not a slash (except the academic year).

1985–1990 or 1985–87 (not ’85–’90)
2000–2001 (not 2000–’01 or 2000/2001)

A range of times is written using the words “from” and “to” in text but with an en dash in tables.

The reception is scheduled from 8 to 11 p.m.
Reception, 8–11 p.m.

See also Punctuation and spelling: Dashes and hyphens.

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8.3 Measurements

8.3.1 Metric abbreviations

Metric measurement abbreviations should appear in lower case with no periods, except for the abbreviation for “litres,” which should be capitalized to avoid confusion with the numeral 1. Use one space between the numeral and the abbreviation for the unit of measure.

5 km, 20 ml, 9 L

8.3.2 Abbreviating customary measurements

Customary (imperial) measurement abbreviations should appear in lower case, with a period at the end of each unit.

in., ft., sq. in.

8.3.3 Temperature

Celsius is abbreviated as a capital.

It was 28˚C yesterday.

8.3.4 Using superscripts

Square measures may be expressed as 6 sq m or with the superscript: 6 m2. The latter form is to be used in scientific or technical text.

Cubic measures should be expressed using the superscript: 6 m3

8.3.5 Using numerals

If an abbreviation or symbol is used for the unit of measure, the quantity is always expressed as a numeral.

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8.4 Roman numerals

Monarchs, emperors and popes with the same name are differentiated by roman numerals.

Elizabeth II, Louis XIV

Roman numerals are also used to designate the sequel to a novel or movie.

Rocky IV

8.5 Telephone numbers

Domestic telephone numbers should be separated with hyphens. No parentheses should be used around area codes.


800 numbers should be written as follows:


International phone numbers are expressed in the ITA standard format.

+22 609 123 4567

The international prefix symbol (+) precedes the country code, which is then followed by the area code and telephone number.

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