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The authoritative source for using numbers in text and in citations is the Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition; see p. 544.

Numbers in Text

As of July 2015, Archivaria has adopted as its general rule what the Chicago Manual of Style calls its “alternative rule” (see CMOS 9.3).

Spell out only one-digit numbers (one to nine) and use numerals for all others. However, there are exceptions: for example, a number beginning a sentence is spelled out.

The Humane Society has 22 dogs.

Five hundred cats need homes.

This year’s attendance was 213.

Two hundred and thirteen archivists attended the conference.

There were 200,000 documents and 47,000 files. However, only 1,350 documents were available for the 250th anniversary celebrations.

It was 22 degrees Fahrenheit.


Despite the general rule above, maintain consistency within paragraphs where the text warrants. For example, if in one paragraph there are several numbers given in numerals, it may be preferable to use numerals for all.

The results were based on 15 archival repository websites, 63 questionnaire responses, 9 interviews with Canadian archivists, 8 interviews with American archivists, and 17 policy and procedures documents.

Inclusive Numbers (including Citations)

(a) Cite inclusive numbers according to the chart below. Always use an en-dash when citing inclusive numbers in text and in footnotes.

First Number Second Number Examples  
1-99 Use all digits. 3–10, 71–72, 96–117  
100 or multiples of 100 Use all digits. 100–104, 1100–1113  
101 through 109, 201 through 209, etc. Use changed part only. 101–8, 1103–4  
110 through 199, 210 through 299, etc. Use two or more digits as needed. 321–28, 498–532, 1087–89, 11564–615, 12991–13001
  But if three digits change in a four-digit number, use all four digits. 1496–1504, 2787–2816  

Table 1: Inclusive numbers. Chart adapted from Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, pp. 566–67.

(b) Inclusive roman numerals are always written out in full.

(c) Use an en-dash (–), not a hyphen (-), to mean “up to and including”; do not use it if from or between are used to start a range of numbers.

How to type an en-dash:

  • On a Mac: hold down option and press the hyphen key.

  • On a PC: hold down Ctrl and press the hyphen key on the number pad.

In text, Archivaria, like many publications nowadays, uses the en-dash, with spaces on either side, to stand for an em-dash because em-dashes can look very long.

Note the following instances of inclusive numbers other than pages:

He worked in Calgary from 1954 to 1973.

  • Never “from/between 1954–1973.”

Queen Anne’s War (1702–13)

The Thirty Years War lasted from 1618 to 1648.

The winter of 1912–13 was particularly harsh.

322–84 CE But 384–322 BCE

20th century; 20th-century archives; mid-20th-century archives; mid-20th century

En-dashes are also used in page ranges in citations:

Kent M. Haworth, “The Voyage of RAD: From the Old World to the New,” Archivaria 36 (Autumn 1993): 5–12.


(a) Archivaria prefers the month-day-year format:

August 27, 1942

Spell out months in text and in citations:

October 2, 2013

Journal Title 34 (October 2013)

(b) If using only month-year, do not use a comma, or the word of:

The conference was held in June 2003.

(c) When writing about decades, do not capitalize or use quotation marks. Do not use an apostrophe unless it is used to replace the century and it is clear from the context which century is being referred to:

the thirties (not the Thirties or the “thirties”)

the 1930s (not the 1930’s)

the mid-1980s – but late 1980s, early 1980s

(d) When using a century as an adjective, use hyphens to link all words that make up the adjective:

late-19th-century archives but in the late 19th century; mid-19th century

mid-20th-century archives; 20th century; 20th-century archives

late 19th- and early-20th-century archives (use a suspensive hyphen)

by the early 20th century; by the late 18th century

early-21st-century archives

Note that superscripts are not used:

WRONG: 20th century

RIGHT: 20th century


Always use numerals with percentages (except at the beginning of a sentence).

Only 8 percent of those surveyed replied yes.

Use the percent sign in a scientific or technical context, or where numerous percentage figures are used within a text (from a survey, for example).


Follow the general rule for numbers in text:

They budgeted $3,500 per year.

She paid $45 for the textbook.

The average is $2.65 per person.

Registration for the workshop is £75.

Each author was paid 50 euros (spell out euro unless there are many instances, in which case the symbol can be used).

Ten cents of every dollar is put toward maintenance

  • (spell out Ten because it is at the beginning of the sentence; spell out the word cents).