NZE: How to write times and dates.
We all know the rhyme 1, 2, buckle my shoe. 3, 4, knock on the door.
Or should it be One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, knock on the door?
This article is about how to use numbers and numerals within formal and informal writing to make sure it is consistent and easy to read. These rules are not applicable to very technical or scientific writing, and in those cases the appropriate style guide should be referred to.
When using numbers in writing, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or business documents, the main issue is whether to spell out the number or whether to use figures, but there are some other rules and exceptions to consider.
I still have my mother’s voice in my head from when I was little:
"It’s not ‘Me and Sally are going to the shops’, it's ‘Sally and I’."
Whether we learn English as we are growing up, or learn it later in life, we learn the rules from the people around us. We are taught that it is rude to put yourself before someone else, and that you should say I.
Me and I are two words that are often confused. It may be because of that voice in our heads from when we are young that we try not to sound rude or wrong, and then we over-compensate.
Marja Stack is a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. She is the owner of Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, which caters to all writers of non-fiction books, business publications and cookbooks. For more information or enquiries for how she can help you make your book shine, please see her website:
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- Why you should use plain English
- How to write in plain English
New Zealand English Series
- NZE: How to use a semicolon
- NZE: The 'singular they'
- NZE: How to use italics
- NZE: How to write numbers
- NZE: How to write abbreviations
- NZE: How to punctuate dialogue
- NZE: hyphens, en dashes and em dashes
- NZE: How to write times and dates
- NZE: Possessives
- NZE: Is our spelling different?
- NZE: Burned vs Burnt
- NZE: Using Māori words in English text
- NZE: -ise vs -ize endings
- NZE: Single or double quote marks
- NZE: Punctuation inside or outside quotation marks?
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- The revision and editing process
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- What to expect when you get your manuscript back
- How to order the pages of a book
- Fact checking fiction writing
- Formatting your manuscript for submission
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