Editing Quantitative and Technical Materials

Chapter 10 Copyediting Quantitative Materials
 Use figures for all quantifiable units of measure
 Do not begin a sentence with a figure
 Given a choice, use the metric system of measurement
 Set decimal fractions of less than 1.0 with an initial zero
 Convert treatment of numbers in a translation
 Use only numbers between 0.1 and 1,000 in expressing the quantity of any SI unit; use the derived
units for smaller or larger numbers
 Never make abbreviations into plurals
Mathematical Material
 When converting stacked fractions to solid (inline) fractions, use parentheses whenever necessary to
eliminate confusion
 The preferred order for signs of aggregation or fences is parentheses, square brackets, and braces:
displaying and numbering equations
 Number the equations if they will be referred to again in the document
 Number the equations sequentially either through the book or through a division of it
 Use double numeration (chapter number + period + equation number, e.g., 2.1) to allow future changes
in the numeration
breaking equations
 Break an equation before an operational sign (+, -) or relational sign (=, <, >)
 Never break terms in parentheses
punctuating equations
 Equations are read as sentences, with operational signs taking the place of verbs, conjunctions, and
 Punctuation or no punctuation depends on different style manuals
grammar and punctuation
 Follows the same rules as prose
Copymarking for typesetting
 Unknowns (x, y, z) and variables (a, b, c) in expressions and equations are set as lowercase italic
 Numbers, symbols, and signs are set in roman type
 Vectors are set in bold
 Operational signs and relational signs are set with space on either side.
Statistics: singular when referring to “the system of interpreting numerical data”
plural when referring to specific numbers
Data: plural of “datum”
Chapter 10 Supplement
Figures or Words
1-100: spell out
100-10,000: if possible to be expressed in hundreds, spell out
all the other numbers: use figures
if too much cluster when spelled out: use figures
Round Numbers (approximations)
usually spelled out
e.g., Her essay summarizes two thousand years of Christian history.
large numbers: figure followed by million or billion
First word in sentence
Avoid figure
If too cumbersome, rearrange sentence
e.g., One hundred ten men and 103 women will receive advanced degrees this quarter.
This quarter, 110 men and 103 women will receive advanced degrees.
Physical quantities
Scientific usage
usually figures, e.g.,
45 cubic feet
21 hectares
10 picas
Nonscientific usage
apply the same rules as for general numbers
Quantities with fractions in them
use figures, e.g.,
8 1/2 by 11 inches
If abbreviation is used for unit of measure, quantity should always be in figures. e.g.,
3 mi
12 V
50 lb
65 MPH
137 km
use a figure, e.g.,
for two or more quantities, the symbol should be repeated, e.g.,
3” x 5”
Percentages and Decimal Fractions
Usually set in figures in both humanistic and scientific copies, e.g.,
Grades of 3.8 and 95 are identical.
In scientific copy: use “%”
Of the cultures tested, fewer than 23% yielded positive results.
In humanistic copy: use “percent”
The five-year credit will carry interest of 3 percent.
Decimal Fractions
If capable of equaling or exceeding 1.00, use an initial zero.
a mean of 0.73 the ratio of 0.85
If never equaling 1.00, as in probabilities, levels of significance, correlation coefficients, etc., no initial zero
p < .05 R = .10
When in humanistic contexts, the above rules are seldom observed.
The average number of children born to college graduates dropped from 2.3 to .95 per couple.
Number and unit of measure should be consistent: both spelled out or figure + symbol.
twenty-five cents
Fractions amounts
Should be consistent in terms of how many digits to keep after the decimal point.
Articles bought for $6.00 were sold for $6.75.
The agent received $5.50, $33.75, and $175.00 for the three sales.
If too cumbersome to use figures or to spell out in full, use dollar sign, figure, and units of millions and
billions .
A price of $3 million was agreed upon by both firms.
Foreign currencies
Fr 342.46
DM 45 million
Parts of a book
usually in figures except for preliminary pages:
The preface of the book will be found on pages vii-xiv and the introduction on pages 3-46 in
chapter 1.
25 B.C. A.D. 14
Year abbreviated:
the class of ’84
27 April 1982
April 27, 1982
Year and Month
January 2000
Centuries and Decades
the 1880s and 1890s
the spirit of ’76