# Numbers

Q. In fiction, when a character reads off a hotel room number, would it be in numbers or spelled out? “Room 305, down the hall.” Or “Room three oh five, down the hall.”

Q. I’m currently editing a novel and having difficulty discerning whether Chicago would spell out temperatures or use numerals. CMOS 9.13 offers this example of the general rule for physical quantities: “Within fifteen minutes the temperature dropped twenty degrees.” But elsewhere in the Manual you use numerals: “the phrase freezing point denotes 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius” (CMOS 5.250, under “connote; denote”) and “consisting of two geometric angles that, added together, take up 90 degrees” (CMOS 5.250, under “compliment; complement”). Could you please offer clear simple guidance as to how temperatures should appear in fiction? Thanks!

Q. What is the reason behind spelling out numbers below 10? I feel that numerals increase the clarity and reduce text length.

Q. Hi! I have a manuscript that mentions several Super Bowl games. I know AP style says pro football Super Bowls should be identified by the year, not the roman numerals (“1969 Super Bowl,” not “Super Bowl III”), but does Chicago have a guideline for the best way to identify the games? Is it wrong to use arabic numerals instead of roman? Thank you!

Q. Hi. Can you please outline your recommended approach to ordinals when using the alternative rule? Is it “seventh” and “17th”? And for centuries, using the alternative rule, do you recommend “17th century”? The general rule applies to cardinals and ordinals, but how about the alternative rule? Thank you for your time.

Q. Editing a golf book manuscript. Most golf books I see when referring to a golf hole write it as “the 5th hole” or “the 18th hole”—not “the fifth hole” or “the eighteenth hole.” I assume that is correct according to CMOS? Please advise.

Q. I am confused about the rules given for spelling out centuries. In CMOS 9.32, “the 1800s” is given as an example, but paragraph 8.71 has “the nineteen hundreds.” These examples seem contradictory.

Q. Is the example below correct? For the sake of consistency, I want to spell out the thousands (e.g., “470 thousand” instead of “470,000”), but I’ve never seen this done and don’t think it’s right. Is there a way to keep thousands and millions consistent within the same sentence? “We waste 470,000 heads of lettuce, 1.2 million tomatoes, 2.4 million potatoes, 750,000 loaves of bread, 1.2 million apples, 555,000 bananas, 1 million cups of milk, and 450,000 eggs every day.”

Q. In the sentence “It happened on the twenty-fourth of July,” should the date be spelled out or a numeral? CMOS 9.31 only addresses the treatment of ordinals when the month is not mentioned.

Q. When referring to decimals from zero to one, are they singular or plural? For example, “The road extends for 0.8 mile(s).” A coworker is arguing it is singular since it is not more than one, while I believe it to be plural since we are now talking about multiple pieces of one (eight tenths). If it is singular does the same hold true for similar numbers written as fractions?

Q. Regarding spelling out round numbers over one hundred—how should we handle numbers like 1,500? It’s more round than a number like 1,543, but it’s also less round than a number like one thousand. And if it should be spelled out, which is preferred, “one thousand five hundred” or “fifteen hundred”? Thanks!