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APA Style: Writing & Citation

This Research Guide has been created to help students use APA style in their writing.

Basic Number Rule

 APA style has special rules for expressing numbers within a research papers.  For more detailed information on numbers, please see pages 178-181 in the APA 7th edition manual.  When using numbers in APA, keep these two basic rules in mind.

• Use words instead of numerals when expressing numbers one through nine.

• Use numerals for numbers 10 and up.


Use Words

Use words to express numbers in the following situations: (see page 179, Section 6.33 in the APA 7th edition manual)

When a number is the first word in a sentence, title, or heading.  Reword a sentence whenever possible to avoid using numbers at the beginning of a sentence.  

Twelve students completed the survey on depression.

Twenty percent of the sample showed an increase in stress levels.

Simple fractions 

One half of the participants.

a two-thirds majority

Use the"universally accepted usage" for certain proper nouns

                    The Twelve Apostles

The Twelfth Imam

Use Numerals

Use numbers in the following situations: 

Numbers followed by a unit of measurement.

2 cm

500 mg of acetaminophen

98.6 F

Statistical or mathematical functions, decimal fractions, proportions, percentages.

dived by 3

5 times as many

a ratio of 5:1

Numbers that represent scores, points on a scale, numerals as numerals, and any numbers in a figure or graph.

a score of 5 on a 7 point Likert scale

Numbers indicating a specific point in a numbered series.

Chapter 2

Study 1

When the noun comes before the number, the noun is usually capitalized.  If the number comes before the noun, the usual APA number rule still applys.  See examples below.

Numbers after a Noun Numbers before a Noun
Year 1 the 1st year
Grade 4, Grade 10 the fourth grade, the 10th grade
Items 3 and 5 the third and fifth items
Question 2 the second question
Table 2, Figure 5 the second table, the fifth table
Column 8, Row 7 the eighth column, the seventh row
Chapter 1, Chapter 12 the first chapter, the 12th chapter



Use words for approximations of numbers of days, months, and years.  The manual does not dictate anything for approximations of weeks, decades, or centuries.  Use your own judgment when longer lengths of time.

Numerals and Words Together:

At times, numbers can end up back to back as modifiers to a noun.  An example, 10 7-point scale can easliy be misread as 107 point scale.  This would result in making your data confusing to the reader.  It is recommended that you use a combination of words and numbers to define your numbers.


ten 7-point scales

3 two-way interactions

twenty 6-year-olds

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