Don’t Write Numbers Out on the Web

By Deane Barker on May 14, 2007

Show Numbers as Numerals When Writing for Online Readers: Web writing is slowly developing its own official style. I know that we’ve written differently for the Web for ages now, but Nielsen is throwing facts at the issue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we soon see a “Chicago Manual of Web Style” which is adopted by major news organizations.

Among our discoveries was that numerals often stop the wandering eye and attract fixations, even when they’re embedded within a mass of words that users otherwise ignore.

Why do users fixate on numerals? Because numbers represent facts, which is something users typically relish.

When the schools start teaching it, then the rules have officialy changed.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. This is as old as the hills – even in newspapers. It’s basic news style to write numbers below 10 as words, and numbers above eleven as digits.

    I hate it when Jakob the so-called “guru” Neilsen tries to lay claim to something that’s been in effect since the 1800s.

    The reason this style is employed (even on the web) is because large numbers are unweildy when written as text (trying writing out 5,241 as text and making sense), and because individual numbers often look like letters (I=1, 2+S, 3=E, 4=H, 5=S, 6=G, 7=T, 8=B, 9=Q and so on), so can end up confusing people

    The BBC has applied this style since it first created webpages.

  2. This is as old as the hills – even in newspapers. It?s basic news style to write numbers below 10 as words, and numbers above eleven as digits

    But that’s the thing — he’s saying you never write out numbers, even below 10. Furthermore, you can start sentences with numbers as well, which is an AP-style no-no.

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