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Q. At work I was questioned about the use of numerals versus words in the following sentence: “Table 7 reports the number of cases in which individual debtors filed for protection under Chapter 13 and stated on Official Form 1 that they had filed a case during the preceding eight years.” I had previously explained to this person that if you use numerals for a number greater than 10 in one part of a sentence, you should also use numerals for other similar numbers in that sentence that normally would be spelled out. When she read the sentence cited above, she asked why the second-to-last word (eight) wasn’t replaced with a numeral (8), given that I had used numerals earlier in that sentence. I explained that the other numerals were part of the title of a table, bankruptcy law chapter, and form, so they weren’t in the same category as the last number and thus did not require me to write “8 years.” Am I correct?
A. Yes, you are correct. However, when every number in a paragraph is a numeral except one, sometimes it’s a good strategy to change that one to a numeral as well so readers don’t get distracted by it or doubt your competence. It’s called “regional consistency.”