A Hacksaw to the Ear

I love the “rules” from Gary Kinder in his latest email for Wordrake (www.wordrake.com)


use words for numbers at the beginning of a sentence, including a date:

Nineteen sixty-eight was the height of student migration to the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale during Spring Break.

Eleven hundred twenty-nine students that year were arrested and jailed during the riots.

hyphenate numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine, but only those numbers:

one hundred eighty-three

place a comma after the year, but only if the day appears after the month:

We will wait till October 14, 2015, to begin.

But: We will wait till 14 October 2015 to begin.

use the numeral with the word percent unless in a technical piece; then use %:

But 7 percent voted no.

Mix a 7% solution with . . . .

spell the number if you spell the currency:

twenty-five dollars

write the numeral if you use the symbol:



NOT add the numeral in parentheses after we have written the number in words (lawyers pay close attention):

seven thousand nine hundred fifty-two(7,952).

NOT  use ordinal numbers in dates unless “of” appears between the day and the month:

8 May, or May 8, or the 8th of May

but not May 8th, or 8th May

NOT place an apostrophe before the “s” in a plural year or century:

the 1960s, or the 1800s

NOT capitalize a century:

the twentieth century, or the 20th century.


replace the century with an apostrophe:

the Class of ’64.

Wait, what’s happening? That last one apparently has pushed the crowd to the edge of hysteria! Excuse me, I have a crisis on my hands! David, drop the hacksaw! Leave your ear alone! I’m finished! You may have your audience back!

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author, Gary Kinder, has taught over 1,000 writing programs to law firms, corporations, universities, and government agencies. In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake, the only software in the world that edits for clarity and brevity, giving professionals more confidence when writing to clients and colleagues. At the push of one button, it “rakes” 10 pages in 30 seconds and suggests an average of 100 edits to remove or replace dull and unnecessary words. Backed by seven U.S. patents, WordRake was recently hailed as “Disruptive Innovation” by Harvard Law School.


About datalossguru

I am a data recovery engineer by trade, attorney by license, husband, father and coach by choice.
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