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Q. In a bibliography where the title of an unsigned article is a date (“1939: The Beginning of the End”), does the bibliography begin with this entry, or is it alphabetized according to its spelled-out word?

A. It’s usual to file a title like that under the spelled-out version of the number, in this case, nineteen. However, in lists where many such titles begin with numbers, you might rather group them all in numerical order at the beginning. In rare instances you could post an important title at both locations or add a cross-reference directing the reader to the location of the full citation.

My question is: Why nineteen? What if the title were 1,939 Pieces of Candy? The convention of saying “nineteen thirty-nine” for a date is simply that, a convention. For 2014 there is not yet a common convention: I have heard both “two thousand fourteen” and “twenty fourteen.” I would think that the correct method is to alphabetize by spelling out each number individually. Also, in the computer age when tables and other finding aids are programmatically generated, using the number-by-number approach requires only ten lines of computer code. Your existing answer would require an infinite number of lines, one for each number.

A. This is why good human indexers are better than computers: they have common sense. Humans can style the entry in the form they expect most readers to look under, and they can judge when extra help is needed.