Numbers and Abbreviations


Here are three basic rules for using numbers in writing, which are quite helpful.

Rule 1. Spell out numbers that take no more than two words. Otherwise, use the Arabic numerals.

  • E.g. a) The chef has a file of 365 recipes.

b) Only seven students came to class today.

c) Thirty-five is an odd number.

Rule 2. Numbers are often used to show dates, times, percentages, addresses and so on.

  • E.g. a) I went to bed at 11 p.m. last night so I felt extremely sleepy this morning.

b) Xiamen University was founded in 1921 by Tan Kah Kee, a well-known overseas Chinese and also a patriotic leader.

c) The flight from Boston is due at 15:30.

Rule 3. When you are using several nunbers at the same time, they have to be consistent with each other.

  • E.g. In the farmland, there are 123 sheep, 10 hounds and 2 kittens possessed by the owner.


In formal writing, we had better avoid using most abbreviatios. However, those listed below are some of the few abbreviations that are accepted in compositions.

Pay attention to the period which is used after most abbreviations.

1. Initials in one's name.

  • J.K.Rowling George W.Bush John F.Kennedy

2. Time references.

  • A.M. or a.m. B.C., A.D. P.M. or p.m.

3. Mr.,Ms.,Mrs.,Dr.,Jr.,Sr. when used with names.

  • Dr. Adams Ms.Lee Newton, Jr.

4. Famous initials of organizations, technical words, and company names