Numbers

Q. I’m writing dialogue with blood pressure values. I’m OK with my doc saying, “Your last reading was one twenty-nine.” But what do I do with a reading of 101? “One zero one” sounds like Mr. Spock. “One oh one” is the way people speak, but “oh” may be confused with the exclamation. “One hundred and one” sounds like a temperature, not a blood pressure. Plus, this form would require me to use “one hundred and twenty-nine,” etc., for consistency. “One hundred one” is probably correct, but sounds awkward, and might be confused with repetition: “That’s one hundred—one.” Should I just give up and use numerals?

A. If you want to spell these out the way people talk, consistency isn’t an issue. Write “one twenty-nine” and “a hundred and one.” Alternatively, use numerals. For more guidance, see CMOS 13.42.