Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. I’m editing a biography. The author has used a rather journalistic style of writing to indicate the ages of members of the family, e.g., Mary, 12, Ellen, 10, and John, 3. Apart from the general rule of spelling out zero through one hundred, I believe this kind of list is stylistically inappropriate in a discursive work, and would prefer to see it written. For example, Mary was then twelve years old, Ellen was ten, and John, three. Do you agree?

A. We do agree. Your preference aligns with Chicago style, which is favored by humanists, novelists, and other creative writers. See chapter 9 (Numbers) for confirmation. Please note, however, that to many people newspaper-style numerals are familiar and easy to read, and they are not incorrect.