American Psychological Association

Numbers Expressed in Numerals

In general, use numerals to express numbers 10 and above, and use words to express numbers zero through nine .

there were 15 psychologists at the clinic

the study had 40 participants

students were in the third, sixth, eighth, 10th, and 12th grades

However, there are exceptions to this general guideline for number usage. There are cases in which you should always use numerals to express numbers, even numbers zero through nine, and likewise, there are cases in which you should always use words to express numbers, even numbers 10 and above.

apa writing numbers in text

This guidance has been expanded from the 6th edition. 

Related handout

Cases in which to always use numerals for numbers

Always use numerals to express numbers in the following cases, even numbers zero through nine:

Numbers in a series

Also use numerals to write numbers that denote a specific place in a numbered series when the number comes after the noun (e.g., Step 1). The noun before the number is also capitalized. This guideline applies to parts of books and tables as well (e.g., Chapter 1).

However, when the number comes before the noun, the usual guidelines for number use apply, as in the following examples.

Exceptions : Do not capitalize the abbreviations for page(s) or paragraph(s), even when they are followed by a numeral (e.g., p. 3, pp. 2–5, para. 9, paras. 1–4).

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apa writing numbers in text

Numbers & Statistics 

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Writers often need to discuss numbers and statistics in their manuscripts, and it can be a challenge to determine how to represent these in the most readable way. APA 7 contains detailed guidelines for how to write numbers and statistics, and the most common are listed below. These guidelines, however, are not exhaustive and writers may need to evaluate particular instances of numbers in their own writing to determine if the guideline applies or if an exception should be made for clarity.


Generally, you can spell out numbers below 10 in words (seven, three), and use numerals for anything 10 and higher (10, 42). 

Use a numeral in these cases:

Spell the number out in words in these cases:

When numbers are written next to each other in a sentence, one strategy to help readers parse the sentence is to combine words and numerals (3 two-year-old owls, four 3-step plans), but rewording to separate the numbers may be the best choice for clarity in some cases. Clarity for readers is always the most important consideration.

Ordinal Numbers 

Treat ordinal numbers (3rd, fourth) the same way as other numbers, using the guidelines above. You may use a superscript or not (1 st , 1 st ), but you should maintain the same usage throughout your paper.

Decimal Fractions 

In numbers less than 1, writers may include a leading 0 before the decimal point or not. This choice is based on the maximum possible amount of the statistic:

APA's general principle for rounding decimals in experimental results is as follows, quoted here for accuracy: "Round as much as possible while considering prospective use and statistical precision" (7th edition manual, p. 180). Readers can more easily understand numbers with fewer decimal places reported, and generally APA recommends rounding to two decimal places (and rescaling data if necessary to achieve this).

Some more specific guidelines for particular values are listed below.

One decimal place:

Two decimal places:

Statistical Copy 

These rules cover presentation of data, not accuracy of data or the best way to conduct analysis.

You can represent data in the text, in a table, or in a figure. A rule of thumb is:

Clarity is always paramount.

When discussing statistics in common use, you do not need to provide a reference or formula.

If the statistic or expression is new, rare, integral to the paper, or used in an unconventional way, provide a reference or formula.

The purpose of reporting statistics is usually to help readers confirm your findings and analyses; as such, the degree of specificity in reporting results should follow in line with that purpose.

When your data are multilevel, you should include summary statistics for each level, depending on the kind of analysis performed. When your data are reported in a table or figure, you do not need to repeat each number in the text, but you should mention the table or figure in the text when discussing the statistics and emphasize in-text key data points that help interpret your findings. 

Use words like "respectively" or "in order" to clarify each statistic mentioned in text and their referent.

For instance:

Confidence intervals should be reported: 90% CI [ LL, UL ], with LL as the lower limit and UL as the upper limit of the interval. You do not need to repeat confidence intervals in the same paragraph or in a series when the meaning is clear and the confidence interval has not changed. When CIs follow the report of a point estimate, you do not need to repeat the unit of measurement.

Statistics uses a great deal of symbols and abbreviations (when a term can be both, the abbreviation refers to the concept and the symbol indicates a numeric value).

You do not need to define these when they represent a statistic or when they are composed of Greek letters. You do need to define any other abbreviation (such as ANOVA, CFA, SEM) in your paper. If the analysis you are performing uses multiple notation styles for symbols and abbreviations, only use one consistently throughout your paper.

Some other statistical symbol guidelines include:

Mathematical Copy 

For ease of reading, use spaces between elements in a mathematical expression ( a + b = c ), except in the case of a minus sign indicating a negative number which uses a space before the minus but not between the minus and the numeral.

Use subscripts first and then superscripts, except in the case of key symbols like the superscript for prime.

All equations should be punctuated to fit in the syntax of the sentence, even if they are presented on their own line.

Short, simple equations can be written in a regular line of text, with a slash (/) for fractions. Parentheses, square brackets, and braces should be used (in that order, from innermost to outermost) to indicate order of operations. Equations that do not fit vertically in the line of text should be shown on their own line. 

All displayed equations (equations on their own line) should be numbered, similarly to tables and figures, so that they can be referred to later (and simple equations may be displayed rather than written in a line of text if they will need to be referred to later by number).

In text, equations should be referred to by name (Equation 1 or the first equation are both acceptable). The equation number does not need a special label, and instead should be displayed in parentheses toward the right margin of the page:

  If a symbol in your equation cannot be entered with your word processor, use an image; otherwise, type all equations exactly as you would like them to appear in the publication.

Writing Center Home Page

Other APA Guidelines: Numbers

Basics of Numbers

Numbers expressed as words, numbers expressed as numerals, numbers video, related resources, knowledge check: numbers.

Per APA 7, Section 6.32, use numerals to express numbers 10 or above (e.g., 11, 23, 256). Per Section 6.33, write out numbers as words to express numbers up to nine (e.g., three, seven, eight).

Take the APA Style Diagnostic Quiz  to test your knowledge.

Use words to express numbers in these situations:

Seventeen computer programmers went out to dinner last night
The principal presented awards to three fourths of the student body.
(This is a new rule in APA 7. APA 6 recommended using numerals in the abstract.)

Use numerals to express numbers in these situations:

She had been a nurse for 3 years.
Chapter 4 was considered required reading.
The student scored a perfect 7.
Each post was roughly 2.45 ft apart.
Teachers gave students ice cream if they scored in the top 5%.
You owe me $5.

apa writing numbers in text

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apa writing numbers in text

APA Writing Style

Introduction to apa writing, sample student paper.

APA (American Psychological Association) style is commonly used in academic writing within the disciplines of science, psychology, nursing, and education.  The manual does not just provide information on how to cite sources, but also includes a stylistic writing component.  Consistency is important in academic writing.  This research guide will attempt to address some of the common errors writers make when trying to write in APA style.  

APA has just published the revised 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 

Cover Art

The first link below provides an example of an annotated student paper that is shown in the APA 7th Edition manaul.  There is also an example of a Microsoft Word file format paper without the annotations.

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APA Style Guidelines for Numbers | Words or Numerals?

Published on August 7, 2015 by Sarah Vinz . Revised on September 28, 2021.

Numbers can be written either as words (e.g., one hundred) or numerals (e.g., 100). In this article we follow the guidelines of APA Style , one of the most common style guides used in academic writing .

In general, words should be used for numbers from zero through nine, and numerals should be used from 10 onwards. This is true for both cardinal numbers (e.g., two, 11) and ordinal numbers (e.g., second, 11 th ). However, there are some important exceptions to this rule.

Note that other style guides, such as Chicago Style,  address numbers differently (for example, in Chicago, you use words for numbers up to 100). Regardless of what style guide you follow, the most important thing is to be consistent in how you treat numbers throughout your document.

Table of contents

Writing percentages, reporting statistical results that include numbers, writing numbers that are accompanied by measurements, writing long numbers, consistency may not be obvious.

Use numerals for numbers from zero to nine that are followed by a precise unit of measurement.

The samples measured 7 cm in diameter. (“cm” is a unit of measurement)

But: These three samples were subjected to further testing.

Use words for any number that is used to start a sentence, with the exception of years.

Seventy-two thousand ink cartridges are sold every day.

Nineteenth-century novels often feature complicated plot lines.

But: 2008 saw record olive crops throughout the Mediterranean.

Use words for common fractions and set expressions.

According to the survey, two thirds of the employees are dissatisfied.

Understanding the Five Pillars of Islam is a critical first step.

The Fourth of July is traditionally marked by a firework display.

With percentages, the standard is to use numerals and “%” (not “percent”).

According to the report, 45% of the workforce is employed in the service sector. Only 6% currently work in agriculture.

The main exception is if you are using a percentage to begin a sentence. In this case, use words to express the entire percentage.

Thirteen percent of the patients reported that their symptoms improved after taking the experimental drug.

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apa writing numbers in text

If your paper includes quantitative research, you probably have data to report. Statistics, mathematical functions, ratios, and percentages are all written using numerals. This is true regardless of whether they are included within a table or as part of the actual text. Keep the following guidelines in mind:

The average IQ of the participants was relatively high ( M = 137.33, SD = 4.54).

The results of the second test were statistically significant, t (12) = 4.11, p < .05.

There are further detailed guidelines about reporting statistics in APA .

If a number comes immediately before a unit of measurement, use numerals.

Each patient received  5 mg  of the experimental drug.

The tallest participant was 2.03 m .

Also use numerals for precise ages, times, dates, scores, points on a scale, and amounts of money.

The final score of Ghana 2, Brazil 1 did not represent a decisive victory.

Children under 8 years receive a $50 discount.

But: Most girls start reading when they are about five years old. (“about” makes the number imprecise)

Longer numbers follow specific rules:

The region has an average of 43.75 doctors for every 10,000 people.

Some predict that the number of users will reach 2 billion by 2020.

One of the main reasons why writing numbers is complicated is that consistently applying the rules may lead to a text that actually seems very in consistent. Consider the following paragraphs:

At about the age of seven , the girl’s height was 1.47 m. This placed her in the fifth percentile, although her weight placed her in the top 7% of her class. By the time she was 9 years old, she was taller than half of the boys in her year. Five years later, she was still ranked 15 th .

Thirteen thousand viewers watched the performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night from the park, while another 2,000 watched from the surrounding buildings and 1.2 million watched it on television. As one  out of every 11 residents saw at least part of the play, this one event can definitely be considered a success.

These texts may look awkward because so many different number formats have been used, but don’t be deceived – the above guidelines have all been followed.

If you are not required to strictly follow a particular style (such as APA format ), you may have some flexibility to modify the guidelines presented in this article. Just be sure to apply any modifications you make throughout your entire document.

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Sarah's academic background includes a Master of Arts in English, a Master of International Affairs degree, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She loves the challenge of finding the perfect formulation or wording and derives much satisfaction from helping students take their academic writing up a notch.

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APA (6/e) Style Guide

Links or files.

Welcome to the NYMC APA Style LibGuide .  

This page is intended to be used as a guide. Please refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) as a definitive source (See NOTE at bottom of this page). The library has 3 copies on 2 hour Reserve,  WZ345 P976 2010, you can ask for a copy at the Service Desk.  The Reference Librarians at the Health Sciences Library are available to help you interpret correct APA style. 

American Psychological Association (APA)  style is commonly used for citing references in student papers in science, medical, public health, health sciences and nursing as well as the social science.

The following sections provide you with information and examples that will help you to cite the sources that you come across during your research.  There are additional types of sources that you might be interested in citing, and for those sources we recommend referring to the APA Publication Manual. For the most up to date information, you can also refer to the  APA Style website  .

Keep in mind that APA Style refers to:

The purpose of documentation is to:

The American Psychological Association maintains a page of  supplemental materials    that are referenced from, but not printed in, the actual manual. A  list of corrections    to the first printing (July 2009) was released online. Please refer to  this list   for corrections that might not appear in your version of the APA Publication Manual.)

Additional resources to use for citing with APA:

New York Medical College

Blog Guidelines

« Have You Found Some APA Style Rules More Challenging to Learn Than Others? | Main | Hyphenation Challenges »

January 13, 2011

Numbers anyone.

Paige-for-web-site 75x75

We have been heartened by the volume and thoughtfulness of the questions and suggestions we’ve received on the APA Style Blog, and we’re always looking for ways to help writers learn more about APA Style.  We thought it might be useful to follow up on last week’s guest post by Tony Onquegbuzie and colleagues about what they found to be the most common APA Style errors.  Their data were based on the fifth edition of the APA Publication Manual , but most of the style rules cited remained unchanged in the sixth edition.  So, we thought it might be helpful to focus some of our upcoming posts on Onwuegbuzie and colleagues’ “Top 60.”

Top on that list are APA Style rules related to the use of numbers.  We have devoted a number of blog posts to this topic.  Below we expand on those that Onwuegbuzie and colleagues found to be especially challenging.

1.    Use numerals to express numbers 10 and above, and use words to express numbers below 10 (see sections 4.31–4.32, pp. 111–112).

This general rule was altered slightly from the fifth to the sixth edition of the Publication Manual.  The fifth edition required that when numbers below 10 are grouped for comparison with numbers 10 and above within the same paragraph, all numbers so grouped would be expressed in numerals.  However, per the sixth edition, the general rule holds regardless of items that are grouped for comparison.  So, it’s now fine to say, “Of the snakes, 13 were poisonous and nine were harmless garter snakes.”

2.     Use numerals to express units of time, dates, ages, and numbers that denote a specific place in a numbered series (see section 4.32, p. 112).

This general rule about using numerals in these contexts is the same as in the fifth edition.  Note two related changes, however:

Are there APA Style rules on numbers that seem mystifying (or perhaps illogical!)?  Let us know, and we’ll try to  clarify them.

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  1. Numbers expressed in numerals

    In general, use numerals to express numbers 10 and above, and use words to express numbers zero through nine. · there were 15 psychologists at the clinic. the

  2. Numbers in APA

    In general, APA style recommends using words to express numbers below 10, and using numerals when expressing numbers 10 and above.

  3. Numbers and Statistics

    Generally, you can spell out numbers below 10 in words (seven, three), and use numerals for anything 10 and higher (10, 42). Cite your source automatically in

  4. Numbers

    Per APA 7, Section 6.32, use numerals to express numbers 10 or above (e.g., 11, 23, 256). Per Section 6.33, write out numbers as words to express numbers up

  5. Rules Regarding the Use Numerals in APA and MLA styles

    The general rule governing APA style on the use of numbers is to use figures to express numbers 10 and above and words to express numbers below 10" (APA

  6. Numbers

    Basic Number Rule · APA style has special rules for expressing numbers within a research papers. For more detailed information on numbers, please

  7. APA Style Guidelines for Numbers

    In general, words should be used for numbers from zero through nine, and numerals should be used from 10 onwards. This is true for both cardinal

  8. Numbers

    A. General rule: “Use numerals to express numbers 10 and above and words to express numbers below 10” (American Psychological Association (APA), 2010, p.

  9. Numbers in text APA 7th edition: What has changed?

    What are some key changes in the APA Publication Manual from 6th to 7th edition regarding numbers and results in text?

  10. Numbers Anyone?

    1. Use numerals to express numbers 10 and above, and use words to express numbers below 10 (see sections 4.31–4.32, pp. 111–112)