A Tool (and Tips) to Turn Numbers into Text:
Sometimes you need to write out numbers using words. When writing a check, words are used for clarification even though numerals may make more sense to you, and this skill (turning a set of numbers into words) may come in handy in other areas as well.
Just Like it Sounds”
If you can say it, you can write it. A rule of thumb is to write out numbers just as they sound. If your number is 1,234, say it out loud. It will be written just as it sounds: One thousand two hundred thirty-four.
A Few Tips:
- Note the hyphen (or the minus sign) in “thirty-four” above. It is technically correct to hyphenate some numbers, but merchants don’t care when you’re writing a check.
- If you choose to hyphenate, use a hyphen for any numbers between 21 and 99
- Do not use the word “and” after “hundred” or “thousand” — unless the number of cents follows immediately after
- Use “and” only before writing the amount of cents or fractional dollars (see below)
- Only write the full dollar amount in words. For portions less than a dollar, use a fraction. For example, if your number is 1234.59, write “one thousand two hundred thirty-four and 59/100” (instead of writing “point five nine”). For more details on how to do this, read about putting dollars and cents into words.
- Avoid informal ways of saying things. Write “one thousand two hundred” instead of “twelve hundred”
Note that the amount you write using words is the official amount of your check. If the amount in numeric format differs from what you wrote in word format, the bank is supposed to go with the amount written out in words (but that doesn’t always happen — the discrepancy often goes unnoticed).
If you’d like to write fewer checks, try paying a different way. For purchases in-person and online, you can use a debit card and spend the same money from your checking account — you can even pay bills with plastic.
Another option is to set up online bill payment through your bank or service provider. Your bills can be paid automatically, or only when you choose to pay them. Your bank will either send funds electronically or print and mail a check for you (so you don’t have to write the check and get it in the mail).
Whether To Use Digits Or Words:
With very little deviation, most grammatical texts rule that the numbers zero to nine inclusive should be “written out” – meaning instead of “1” and “2”, one would write “one” and “two”.
- Example: “I have two apples.” (Preferred)
- Example: “I have 2 apples.”
After “nine”, one can head straight back into the 10, 11, 12, etc., although some write out the numbers until “twelve”.
- Example: “I have 28 grapes.” (Preferred)
- Example: “I have twenty-eight grapes.”
Another common usage is to write out any number that can be expressed as one or two words, and use figures otherwise.
- “There are six million dogs.” (Preferred)
- “There are 6,000,000 dogs.”
- “That is one hundred and twenty-five oranges.” (British English)
- “That is one hundred twenty-five oranges.” (US-American English)
- “That is 125 oranges.” (Preferred)
Numbers at the beginning of a sentence should also be written out.
The above rules are not always used. In literature, larger numbers might be spelled out. On the other hand, digits might be more commonly used in technical or financial articles, where many figures are discussed. In particular, the two different forms should not be used for figures that serve the same purpose; for example, it is inelegant to write, “Between day twelve and day 15 of the study, the population doubled.”