Spelling Out Large Numbers in An Essay: What Is the Threshold?

​Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads, wondering whether to unleash a string of digits or elegantly spell out that colossal number in your essay? 

The struggle is real, and we get it! In the realm of writing, figuring out when to spell out large numbers can be a bit like navigating through a numerical maze. Fear not, though, because we’re here to shed some light on this linguistic conundrum. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the magic number that acts as a threshold between spelling out and sticking to the digits. Say goodbye to the confusion and hello to clarity as we unravel the mystery of dealing with large numbers in your essays. Let’s embark on this numerical adventure together!

Essay Readability and Writing Best Practices

​There’s no denying that readability is important when it comes to writing essays. After all, if your essay is difficult to read, it’s unlikely that your reader will stick with it until the end. But what exactly is readability, and how can you ensure that your essays are as readable as possible? Let’s take a closer look.

Readability is basically how easy or difficult it is to read and understand a piece of writing. There are a number of factors that contribute to readability, including sentence length, word choice, and overall organization. 

As a general rule, shorter sentences are more readable than longer ones, and simple words are more readable than complex ones. Additionally, a well-organized essay will be easier to read than one that’s all over the place.

There are a few different ways to measure readability. The most common is the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which assigns a score to a piece of writing based on factors like sentence length and word choice. A score of 60-70 is considered easy to read, while a score of 50-60 is considered fairly difficult. Anything below 50 is quite difficult to read.

So, how can you ensure that your essays are readable? Here are a few tips:

  • Use short, simple sentences. If a sentence is too long or complex, break it up into two or more smaller sentences.
  • Use familiar, easy-to-understand words. If you’re using a lot of jargon or complex vocabulary, your reader may get lost.
  • Organize your thoughts before you start writing. An outline can be helpful in ensuring that your essay flows smoothly and is easy to follow.
  • Revise, revise, revise. After you’ve written your essay, read it over carefully and make any necessary changes. This will help to ensure that your essay is as clear and readable as possible.

Following these tips should help to make your essays more readable and easier to understand. However, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to readability. What works for one person may not work for another, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works best for you.

Spelling Out Large Numbers in An Essay What Is the Threshold 2

Guidelines for Spelling Out Large Numbers

​When writing large numbers, it is important to know when to spell them out and when to use numerals. There are some general guidelines that can help you make the decision.

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If the number is under 10, spell it out. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to get in the habit of spelling out numbers so you don’t accidentally use a numeral later on when you’re writing bigger numbers.

If the number is 10 or greater, you can begin using numerals. But be consistent throughout the document. If you start writing out numbers in words, stick to that style. The same goes for using all numerals.

There are some numbers that you should always spell out. These include:

  • whole numbers below 10 (e.g., three, seven)
  • numbers that begin a sentence (e.g., Eighty-three percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the survey)
  • common fractions (e.g., one-half, two-thirds)
  • ordinal numbers (e.g., first, second)

You can spell out large numbers if it makes the text easier to read. Just be sure to be consistent throughout the document. Sometimes using a combination of words and numerals makes sense. For example, you might write, “I have $100 million in the bank.” In this sentence, the numeral makes it clear you’re talking about a large sum of money without having to write out all the zeros.

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of spelling out numbers. This will make your writing clearer and avoids the risk of confusing your reader.

When to Use Numerals in Essays

​When it comes to writing numbers in essays, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost,Spell out whole numbers below 10 and use figures for 10 and above. However, there will be some exceptions to this rule.

For example, if you were writing an essay about population growth, you would use numerals for all the numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.)

Another time you might want to use numerals instead of words is when you’re writing about percentages or monetary amounts. For instance, if you said that “83% of Americans feel that” or “$4 trillion was spent on” you would want to use numerals. This is because it just looks cleaner and more precise.

If you start a sentence with a number, spell it out. For example, “Forty-two percent of Americans think that…” not “42% of Americans think that…”. The same goes for dates: write out “January 1, 2019” not “1/1/19”. The only time you would want to use the latter is if you were writing about a specific year (e.g. the year 20xx) and you wanted to save space by using numbers instead of spelling it out.

Generally speaking, spell out numbers one through nine in words and use figures for 10 and above. However, there will be instances where it makes more sense to use numerals instead of words. When in doubt, err on the side of spelling it out rather than using a figure.

Decimal Placement for Spelling Out Numbers

​Decimal placement can be a tricky concept for students to grasp. It’s often one of the first topics covered in a math class, but it’s also one of the most frequently forgotten. Here’s a quick refresher on decimal placement and how to spell out numbers that have decimal places.

Decimal place value is determined by the position of a digit relative to the decimal point. The decimal point separates the whole numbers from the fractional part of a number. Whole numbers can be thought of as having an implicit decimal point at the end of the number. 

For example, the number 12 can be thought of as 12.0. In other words, the number 12 has a decimal place value of 10 (1×10^1) and a fractional place value of 1 (2×10^0).

The decimal point can be moved to the left or the right depending on what value you’re working with. For example, moving the decimal point one place to the left changes the place value of all digits to the left of the decimal point by a factor of 10. 

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So, if we move the decimal point one place to the left in the number 12, we get 1.2. The number 1 now has a place value of 10 (1×10^1) and the number 2 has a place value of 1 (2×10^0).

When you’re spelling out numbers that have decimal places, you need to be careful to include the decimal point in the right spot. For example, the number 0.012 would be spelled out as “zero point zero one two.”

Similarly, the number 12.345 would be spelled out as “twelve point three four five.”

So, how big does a number have to be for you to spell it out in an essay? That really depends on the context of the essay and the preferences of your instructor. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should spell out numbers that are less than 10 and use numerals for numbers that are 10 or greater.

Spelling Out Large Numbers in An Essay What Is the Threshold

Large Number Examples

​Most people know that a billion is a large number, but how big does a number have to be for me to spell it out in an essay? A trillion is a much larger number, and it is hard to even imagine what a trillion dollars looks like. Here are some examples of large numbers to help put it into perspective.

A million seconds is about 12 days.

A billion seconds is about 32 years.

A trillion seconds is about 32,000 years.

To put that into perspective, the dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. So, a trillion seconds ago, the Earth was still inhabited by dinosaurs!

Now let’s look at some really big numbers.

A googol is a 1 with a hundred zeroes after it (10100).

A googolplex is a 1 with a googol zeroes after it (10googol).

These numbers are so big that they are impossible to write out in full, so we use the exponent notation instead.

Even these numbers are tiny compared to some of the largest numbers that have been used in mathematics. The googolplex is dwarfed by Graham’s number, which is so large that it doesn’t even have a name, just an exponent (3 ↑↑↑↑ 3). And Graham’s number is just a drop in the bucket compared to Skewes’ number, which is so big that it can’t be written down with any known notation!

So there you have it, some large number examples to help put things into perspective. The next time someone tells you that something is a “big number”, just ask them how big it has to be for them to start spelling it out in an essay!

Tips for Making Essays Easier to Read

​As a student, you probably find yourself having to write essays quite often. Essays are a necessary part of most school assignments and tests. Unfortunately, not all students find writing essays to be an easy task. If you find yourself struggling to write an essay, there are some tips that can help make the process easier.

1. Use clear and concise language.

When writing an essay, it is important to use language that can be easily understood by your audience. Avoid using complicated or technical language that would require your readers to look up words in a dictionary. Stick to using simple, straightforward language that will be easy for your readers to follow.

2. Organize your thoughts before writing.

Before you start writing your essay, it can be helpful to take some time to organize your thoughts. Jot down a few key points that you want to make in your essay. Then, organize those points into an outline. Having an outline will help you stay on track as you write and make sure that your essay covers all the necessary information.

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3. Write in short, concise paragraphs.

Another tip for making your essay easier to read is to write in short, concise paragraphs. Breaking up your text into smaller paragraphs makes it easier for your readers to digest the information. It also helps to keep your readers from getting lost in a long, rambling essay.

4. Use transitional words and phrases.

When moving from one paragraph to the next, it is important to use transitional words and phrases. These words and phrases help to signal to your readers that you are changing topics. Some common transitional words and phrases include: “however,” “in addition,” “moreover,” “nevertheless,” and “consequently.”

5. Edit and proofread your essay.

Once you have finished writing your essay, take some time to edit and proofread it. Check for any grammatical or spelling errors. Make sure that your essay flows smoothly and that there are no awkward transitions. Reading over your essay a few times can help to ensure that it is clear and error-free.

By following these tips, you can make the process of writing an essay easier and less stressful. So next time you have an essay to write, remember to use clear language, organize your thoughts, write in short paragraphs, and proofread your work.


​In conclusion, spelling out large numbers in an essay is a personal choice and depends on the writer’s preferences. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but there are some general guidelines that can be followed. If a number is under 10, it is usually best to spell it out. For numbers 10 and above, it is usually best to use numerals. 

However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when a number is the first word in a sentence or when it is a large round number. Ultimately, it is up to the writer to decide how to spell out numbers in their essay.


Why should I bother spelling out large numbers in my essay?

Spelling out large numbers in your essay can enhance readability and make your writing more polished. It’s a style choice that can lend a more formal and aesthetically pleasing tone to your work.

Is there a universal threshold for spelling out numbers, or does it vary?

While there isn’t a strict universal rule, a common guideline is to spell out numbers smaller than 10 and use numerals for those 10 and above. However, context, style guides, and personal preference can influence this decision.

Can I use numerals for emphasis even if the number is less than 10?

Yes, you can. Style guides often allow the use of numerals for emphasis or clarity, even for numbers less than 10. However, maintaining consistency throughout your writing is key.

Are there exceptions to the rule of spelling out numbers below 10?

Yes, certain situations may warrant the use of numerals for numbers less than 10. For instance, in scientific or technical writing, numerals are often preferred regardless of the size of the number.

Do I spell out large numbers in every context, such as dates and percentages?

Not necessarily. Different style guides have specific rules for different contexts. Generally, years, page numbers, and percentages often use numerals, while other numbers in the same sentence might be spelled out.

What if I have a combination of small and large numbers in a sentence?

In such cases, consistency is crucial. Choose a style guide or rule and apply it consistently throughout the sentence or paragraph to maintain a polished and professional appearance.


Anne L. Reader is a seasoned professional in the realm of Essay writing, proudly serving as the Head Content Writer at CompleteEssay.com. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for crafting engaging and informative Essays, Anne brings a wealth of expertise to the table.