How to Write Numbers in Words Correctly

Writing out numbers appears more complicated than it actually is. Luckily, in everyday life, your only objective is to make things clear enough that others don’t become confused. For example, when you are writing a cheque, you simply restate the numbers that were written numerically someplace else on the cheque. That being said, if you are writing something more formal, like a report, there are a few guidelines that you might elect to follow. Keep in mind that different publications (APA or MLA) follow their own set of standards.

Outlined below, you will see a few examples to guide you in basic tasks like how to best write numbers on cheques or other documents.

Writing a Cheque

When you are writing out a cheque, you are required to write out the dollar amount using words. You will also write out the amount numerically in the amount box. This is done to not only prevent confusion (say in the case of poor handwriting) and to prevent fraud. It is extremely easy to alter numerals or to confuse them for other numbers.

Write it as it sounds

If you are able to say it, you are able to write it. As a general rule of thumb, always write the number as you hear it. For example, if you were to say 1,954 out loud you would say nineteen hundred fifty four. This is how you would write it. You would not write nineteen fifty-four.

Technical Notes

There will be occasions when you will be required to use a hyphen (also called a dash or minus sign). Technically speaking, it is correct to hyphenate all numbers between 21 and 99. However, if we go back to our cheque writing example, it isn’t really necessary to hyphenate any number since it is the decimal point that hold the most weight.

Here is an example of 21 to 99 written out phonetically, with proper hyphen placement.

  • twenty-one
  • twenty-two
  • twenty-three
  • twenty-four
  • twenty-five
  • twenty-six
  • twenty-seven
  • twenty-eight
  • twenty-nine
  • thirty
  • thirty-one
  • thirty-two
  • thirty-three
  • thirty-four
  • thirty-five
  • thirty-six
  • thirty-seven
  • thirty-eight
  • thirty-nine
  • forty
  • forty-one
  • forty-two
  • forty-three
  • forty-four
  • forty-five
  • forty-six
  • forty-seven
  • forty-eight
  • forty-nine
  • fifty
  • fifty-one
  • fifty-two
  • fifty-three
  • fifty-four
  • fifty-five
  • fifty-six
  • fifty-seven
  • fifty-eight
  • fifty-nine
  • sixty
  • sixty-one
  • sixty-two
  • sixty-three
  • sixty-four
  • sixty-five
  • sixty-six
  • sixty-seven
  • sixty-eight
  • sixty-nine
  • seventy
  • seventy-one
  • seventy-two
  • seventy-three
  • seventy-four
  • seventy-five
  • seventy-six
  • seventy-seven
  • seventy-eight
  • seventy-nine
  • eighty
  • eighty-one
  • eighty-two
  • eighty-three
  • eighty-four
  • eighty-five
  • eighty-six
  • eighty-seven
  • eighty-eight
  • eighty-nine
  • ninety
  • ninety-one
  • ninety-two
  • ninety-three
  • ninety-four
  • ninety-five
  • ninety-six
  • ninety-seven
  • ninety-eight
  • ninety-nine

Of course, more and more people choosing to do away with the old habit of writing cheques and instead paying in cash, with credit or debit. Cheque writing isn’t the only time that you could or would be able to practice writing numbers out either as numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) or as words (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten)

Let’s explore some other examples of when to use number or words.

How to Write Numbers in Words

Whenever you are writing out numbers that can be said in less than two words, your writing will look clean and classy. Writing longer numbers out as words isn’t nearly as practical, but it is something that is good to practice when you are first learning the process that works best for you.

Learn how to write out numbers from one to nine. These are the numbers that the widest portion of the population believe should be written numerically. Learn these and progress from there:

  • 1 = one
  • 2 = two
  • 3 = three
  • 4 = four
  • 5 = five
  • 6 = six
  • 7 = seven
  • 8 = eight
  • 9 = nine

From here, write out the numbers 10 to 19. Do you see how many of them are almost identical to the numbers we wrote above, only with the addition of ‘teen’ at the ending? Seventeen really just means seven and ten.

  • 10 = ten
  • 11 = eleven
  • 12 = twelve
  • 13 = thirteen
  • 14 = fourteen
  • 15 = fifteen
  • 16 = sixteen
  • 17 = seventeen
  • 18 = eighteen
  • 19 = nineteen

Now, practice counting in groups of ten from 20 to 90. Here is how you would write out 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.

  • 20 = twenty
  • 30 = thirty
  • 40 = forty
  • 50 = fifty
  • 60 = sixty
  • 70 = seventy
  • 80 = eighty
  • 90 = ninety
  • 100 = one hundred

Now, let’s combine words to write larger numbers. Now that we’ve learned how to write out whole numbers, let’s try to write out the number 21 through 99.

  • 21 = twenty-one
  • 22 = twenty-two
  • 23 = twenty-three
  • 24 = twenty-four
  • 25 = twenty-five
  • 26 = twenty-six
  • 27 = twenty-seven
  • 28 = twenty-eight
  • 29 = twenty-nine
  • 30 = thirty
  • 31 = thirty-one
  • 32 = thirty-two
  • 33 = thirty-three
  • 34 = thirty-four
  • 35 = thirty-five
  • 36 = thirty-six
  • 37 = thirty-seven
  • 38 = thirty-eight
  • 39 = thirty-nine
  • 40 = forty
  • 41 = forty-one
  • 42 = forty-two
  • 43 = forty-three
  • 44 = forty-four
  • 45= forty-five
  • 46 = forty-six
  • 47 = forty-seven
  • 48 = forty-eight
  • 49 = forty-nine
  • 50 = fifty
  • 51 = fifty-one
  • 52 = fifty-two
  • 53 = fifty-three
  • 54 = fifty-four
  • 55 = fifty-five
  • 56 = fifty-six
  • 57 = fifty-seven
  • 58 = fifty-eight
  • 59 = fifty-nine
  • 60 = sixty
  • 61 = sixty-one
  • 62 = sixty-two
  • 63 = sixty-three
  • 64 = sixty-four
  • 65 = sixty-five
  • 66 = sixty-six
  • 67 = sixty-seven
  • 68 = sixty-eight
  • 69 = sixty-nine
  • 70 = seventy
  • 71 = seventy-one
  • 72 = seventy-two
  • 73 = seventy-three
  • 74 = seventy-four
  • 75 = seventy-five
  • 76 = seventy-six
  • 77 = seventy-seven
  • 78 = seventy-eight
  • 79 = seventy-nine
  • 80 = eighty
  • 81 = eighty-one
  • 82 = eighty-two
  • 83 = eighty-three
  • 84 = eighty-four
  • 85 = eighty-five
  • 86 = eighty-six
  • 87 = eighty-seven
  • 88 = eighty-eight
  • 89 = eighty-nine
  • 90 = ninety
  • 91 = ninety-one
  • 92 = ninety-two
  • 93 = ninety-three
  • 94 = ninety-four
  • 95 = ninety-five
  • 96 = ninety-six
  • 97 = ninety-seven
  • 98 = ninety-eight
  • 99 = ninety-nine

Counting by 100 is easy. All you need to do is remember to add the word hundred after the first number.

  • 100 = one hundred
  • 200 = two hundred
  • 300 = three hundred
  • 400 = four hundred
  • 500 = five hundred
  • 600 = six hundred
  • 700 = seven hundred
  • 800 = eight hundred
  • 900 = nineteen hundred

When you are writing out numbers 100 to 999 you only need to write the hundreds place and then the rest of the number. There is no need to write ‘and’. Here are some examples.

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  • 110 = one hundred ten
  • 125 = one hundred twenty-five
  • 205 = two hundred five
  • 275 = two hundred seventy-five
  • 500 = five hundred
  • 515 = five hundred fifteen
  • 930 = nine hundred thirty
  • 937 = nine hundred thirty-seven
  • 999 = nine hundred ninety-nine

When you are typing numbers, particularly longer numbers, it might be helpful to learn and understand place values. You will be able to better understand what each number means based on where it is.

Here is an outline of the first 9 place values and their names.

  • 1 – the ones place
  • 10 – the tens place
  • 100 – the hundreds place
  • 1,000 – the thousands place
  • 10,000 – the ten thousands place
  • 100,000 – the hundred thousand place
  • 1,000,000 – the millions place
  • 10,000,000 – the ten millions place
  • 100,000,000 – the hundred millions place

Adding commas to longer numbers. There will be times when you will need to write out numbers that are too long to write out phonetically or where it just makes more sense to write them out numerically. In these situations, it makes sense to add commas. Starting from the right hand side of the number, where the ones place is, count three digits to the left, and then add a comma. Continue separating the number into groups of three. Here are some examples.

  • 123456 would become 123, 456
  • 1234567 would become 1, 234, 567
  • 123456789 would become 123 , 456, 789

Some countries use a period instead of a comma.

Writing fractions into words is a little bit different. For this, you need to have a basic understanding of math. For example, if the number under the fraction line is a 2, you would need to know that it is written a half or halves. This means that ½ will be written as one-half. Here are a few more examples:

  • ½ = one-half
  • 2/3 = two-thirds
  • 19 / 2 = nineteen-halves

As with anything, the only way to improve your ability to write numbers either as words or as numbers is to practice.  How do you practice writing numbers in everyday life?

  • Write a cheque
  • Write out the date on the top of a piece of paper
  • Practice writing or typing numbers 1 through 100

Keys When to Write Out Numbers

Here are a few guidelines to follow when you are deciding whether you should write a number out as a number or write a number out as a word.

Write a number as a word when:

  • The number is less than nine
  • The number is more than 999
  • The style guide you are using requires it

Write a number as a number when:

  • The number is more than nine
  • The number is less than 999
  • You are writing out the date on a report or other document.
  • The style guide you are using requires it

Remember you do not need to write the word ‘and’ in the middle of a number. You would write two hundred five, not two hundred AND five.

If you find that using commas is too confusing, you can instead choose to write the number using gaps instead of commas. For example 1, 000, 000 would become 1 000 000.

Many academics believe that it is standard practice to write all numbers under 11 phonetically in essays, articles and other forms of academic correspondence, and to write all numbers above 11 numerically.

  • one
  • two
  • three
  • four
  • five
  • six
  • seven
  • eight
  • nine
  • ten
  • eleven
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 30
  • 40
  • 50
  • 60
  • 70
  • 80
  • 90
  • 100
  • 200
  • 300
  • 400
  • 500
  • 600
  • 700
  • 800
  • 900
  • 1,000
  • 1,500
  • 2,000
  • 2,500
  • 3,000
  • 3,500
  • 4,000
  • 4,500
  • 5,000
  • 5,500
  • 6,000
  • 6,500
  • 7,000
  • 7,500
  • 8,000
  • 8,500
  • 9,000
  • 9,500
  • 10,000