When are numbers expressed in words?

Use words to express

any number that begins a sentence, title, or text heading. Whenever possible, reword the sentence to avoid beginning with a number.


  • Ten participants answered the questionnaire.
  • Forty-eight percent of the sample showed an increase; 2% showed no change.

common fractions


  • one fifth of the class
  • two-thirds majority

universally accepted usage


  • the Twelve Apostles
  • Five Pillars of Islam

(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, © 2010)

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