Numbers and Dates
In academic writing in the Humanities, as in most formal writing, use words rather than figures for numbers of less than 100.
Numbers up to 9999 are written without a comma. From 10,000 upwards numbers take a comma; those with seven or more digits take two or more commas, which separate groups of three digits.
Approximate numbers should be expressed in words, even if the number is greater than 100: “There were about five thousand people at the rally”.
If they appear as whole numbers, “hundred”, “thousand”, “million”, “billion”, etc., should also be expressed in words: “The survey consisted of one hundred questions”.
A sentence must always begin with a word. Never begin a sentence using a figure: no matter what the number, it must be written out in words. If the number is particularly large, you can avoid awkwardness by rewording the sentence. However, numbers and percentages can start a sentence in bullet points.
Use figures when referring to volume numbers, page numbers, chapter numbers, and line numbers. In footnotes or endnotes, use figures throughout. Always use figures when the number is accompanied by a unit of measurement or a symbol.
For information about Roman numerals, currency, and weights and measures, see MHRA guide, pp. 31-33.
Dates should be written in the form “14 February 2006”. No internal punctuation is necessary, unless the day of the week is included, in which case the day is followed by a comma: “Tuesday, 14 February 2006”.
When referring to a period of time, use the word “to” rather than a dash: e.g., “from 1837 to 1901”, rather than “from 1837–1901”. Also, use ‘and’ with ‘between’: e.g. “between 1837–2006”.
For more information, see MHRA guide, p 30.
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