Do You Capitalize Numbers When Writing Them Out?


do you capitalize numbers

It can sometimes become hard to determine the form of writing you have adopted to understand specific capitalization rules. This is well pointed out when someone might condescendingly inquire from you that do you capitalize numbers when writing them out. So, a simple reply to them would be that

Numbers aren’t specifically capitalized when they are written in a sentence unless the number being used is the beginning word in that sentence. In addition to this, the number would be capitalized if it is used in a title or as a proper noun.

By giving this response confidently, you will ensure your intellectual dominance on the other. However, this response doesn’t associate with the fact of whether there are any particular exceptions to the rule. Along with that, there could be instances where common practices can ruin the foundation of such grammatical rules.

numbers piled together in black background

Don’t we always use numerical numbers in a sentence?

Depending on certain situations, we often follow a common methodology where we only use numerical numbers in a sentence. The most logical reason in our minds is that these represent a much clearer figure in the minds of the others when writing them. No doubt, this reason can be somewhat accurate but it is not entirely true.

In most general cases, if the numbers used range from zero to nine as a singular unit then they are always written in their English name. However, if these are dual digit numbers such as thirty-eight or fifty-four, then they are preferred to be written in their numerical form. For instance:

  • I rarely drink five smoothies in a day.
  • The University was constructed under a budget of $425,657.

In the first example, as the number was in a singular unit as “five” so it was much better to write without the use of excessive space. However, in the second example, if the number “425,657” were to be written as “Four-hundred twenty-five thousand six-hundred and fifty-seven” then it would only confuse and use an excessive space with hyphens to clarify the number.

It is also important to note that the sentences which initiate with numbers are also considered incorrect as they look very weird for the readers to interpret. For instance,

  • Incorrect: 7 people fled from the scene of the crime.
  • Correct:   Seven people fled from the scene of the crime.

Now in this example, when the numeric is written in spellings, it gave a much neat and clean look to the statement itself as a whole. If the numbers are large to use then a better approach would be to reword or restructure the sentence to use that numeric figure. For example,

  • Incorrect: 1869 students were easily accommodated in the auditorium.
  • Correct:  There were 1869 students who were easily accommodated in the auditorium.

twenty dollars written out

Are There Any Rules for Capitalization of Numbers in a Sentence?

Even though the answer to the question that do you capitalize on numbers when writing them out in a sentence is clearly to the point, but a lot of times there are certain cases when it has to capitalize according to the use in their sentence. Mainly, this is because the number itself is playing a crucial role in the sentence itself.

Some general rules for capitalization of the numbers are as follows:

1.    Numeric spelled out in the form of the proper noun

One of the most basic and primary rules to remember is that when the number is directly associated with a proper noun i.e title of a movie or a song then it must be capitalized. In such situations, the title must be written in the same manner as it is whether it is capitalized or not. For instance,

  • I would love to see Ocean’s Eleven once again as one of my favorite movies. 
  • She hasn’t got the time to see “Seven” because she is super busy lately.

In the first example, the number eleven was capitalized as “Ocean’s Eleven” is a movie title which is the same case for the second example in which the word “Seven” was capitalized. These numbers were written in spellings as they are proper nouns and specify the distinct movie.

2.    The commencing alphabet of a non-hyphenated initial word

Another rule is that whenever numbers are written in the spelled form are present as the starting words then it is important that their commencing character is capitalized. This case applies to every single word because it is done so to create clarity for the presence of a new sentence. For example,

  • Five nights ago, I didn’t realize that the door was kept unlocked.
  • Three out of every five children aren’t finding the new toy impressive.

In these instances, when the numeric was spelled, it was capitalized as it was the starting word of every sentence. It would be inappropriate and incorrect to use numeric in figures as “5” and “3” because it would seem highly awkward for anyone who reads the sentences.

3.    Decades represented with adjectives

It is imperative to also remember that numbers that are written out can be capitalized if they are supported by an adjective to give a distinct image. It means that if the numbers that are written in spellings form are written after a particular adjective then they are considered as a proper noun and must be capitalized.

This adequately aims towards the common phrase “Roaring Twenties” which identifies the unique decade. Another instance of this would be “I love this footwear as it follows the same concept as the Roaring Twenties”. In this example, although the word “Twenties” was not meant to capitalize but with the adjective that specifies its distinguishing image; hence it is capitalized.

If you inquire if you should capitalize numbers when writing them out in a sentence then chances are you would have already answered yourself with these rules. But much like these rules there are also bound to various exceptions that don’t hold up the very foundations of the above-said rules.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Rules for Capitalization of Numbers?

It may seem clear and obvious that there won’t be any exceptions to the rule of capitalization when you think if you should capitalize on numbers when writing them out. But the fact is far different from the actual reality in this case as well. There are very limited exceptions that vary according to the situation and the use of numbers in their spelling form.

Some of these exceptions are as follows:

1.    Non-capitalization without adjectives

If the numbers don’t consist of any adjective before they won’t be capitalized and the same case would apply regardless of where the numeric is written out in the sentence other than as the first commencing word. For instance, “It is very common for a person to miss their twenties”. In this example, as the numeric noun didn’t consist of a preceding adjective so it was not capitalized in the sentence.   

2.    Numeric usage in the quotation marks

Whenever a sentence is written in quotation marks, it is always seen from the perspective of a new sentence. The main reason is that the quoted sentences reflect a different reference and a different idea as opposed to the actual idea of the sentence itself. In order to place emphasis and clearly distinguish a separate sentence, the commencing character of the initial word in the quoted statement is hence capitalized.

An easy example of this is,

  • Francis told Marco, “Five children went missing since yesterday.”
  • Bob told Todd, “Sixty days are needed to complete the project.”

By looking at these examples, it is clear that whenever a number is spelled in the sentences can be capitalized anywhere else as well if they are present in the quoted sentences.

What Are Some Easy Instances for Capitalizing Numbers in Spelling Form?

Some of the easiest illustrations for explanation of the capitalization of the numeric are given below:

  • Fifty-nine employees were laid off from the factory due to major cost-cutting.
  • Seventeen students bunked their classes yesterday.

In both of these examples, the numeric used in spelling form was the commencing words and hence followed the second rule as defined in the above paragraphs.

Another example of this would be when these numeric are used in both quoted sentences and as for proper nouns. For instance,

  • Jamie told Kyle, “Seven out of ten people from twenties to thirties find Ocean’s Eleven as one of their heist fantasy movies.”

In this example, almost all the rules and exceptions have been covered simultaneously to clarify the entire concept in a nutshell.

paper with words and pens

So, Does it Mean We Capitalize Numbers When They Are Written Out?

The answer is yes, whenever you might or others might inquire from you regarding this question on whether you capitalize numbers or not when they are written out be sure to confidently respond to them while keeping all these rules crystal clear in your mind.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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