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When are numbers expressed in words?

This page reflects guidance from the sixth edition of the Publication Manual.

Go to 7th edition guidelines


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)

Last updated: August 2020Date created: May 2009