Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

Number Style: Word or Figure?

[Instructors: Download this exercise and the answer key at the end of the post.]

Whether to use words or figures to express numbers is governed by convention. That is, we follow customary techniques or rules. Here is a summary of frequently used number rules:

  • General rules. Use words for numbers one through ten. (We have ten computers and three printers. She travels 30,000 miles each year.)
  • Beginning of sentence.Never start a sentence with a figure. (Twenty-five candidates applied.)
  • Money. Use figures. (Her ticket cost $699.55, and her luggage fee was $20 more.)
  • Dates. Use figures when the day follows the month (May 5). Do not add the ordinals th, nd, rd unless the day precedes the month (fifth of May) or stands alone (on the fifth).
  • Clock time. Use figures when clock time is expressed with a.m. or p.m. (at 9 a.m.). Use either words or figures when clock time is expressed with o’clock (at one o’clock or at 1 o’clock).
  • Periods of time. Follow general rules (a three-month leave for 90 days).
  • Business terms. Use figures for interest rates, contracts, warranty periods (2 percent, 6-month rental agreement).
  • Addresses. Use figures for all house numbers (3450 Main Street)except the number One. Use words and ordinals for street names tenand under (Fifth Avenue, 17thStreet).

Revise the following sentences to correct number style.

  1. After sending out twenty-five résumés, Amanda was pleased to have 3 job interviews.
  2. She prepared her résumé in about 10 hours and spent 35 dollars on paper and copying.
  3. Her first interview was scheduled for June 18th at eleven a.m. in the morning.
  4. The address for 1 interview was 4821 Thirteenth Avenue.
  5. During a 4-week period, she talked with at least fifteen interviewers and managers.
  6. 2 or 3 interviewers at each company questioned her for about twenty minutes.
  7. A well-known company offered her thirty thousand dollars as a starting salary, but she was hoping for forty thousand.
  8. One job candidate spent 3 hundred dollars on a new wardrobe and traveled fifteen hundred miles to a promising interview.
  9. That candidate received 2 offers on the 15th of the month, but he asked for 7 days to decide.
  10. He graduated with sixty thousand dollars in student loans at a five percent interest rate.
  11. His best interview was at 1 Rockefeller Plaza, which is just off 5th Avenue.
  12. He had only three dollars in his pocket, but a taxi ride would cost at least 15 dollars.
  13. Eager candidates submit their résumés to 1 hundred or more companies.
  14. He was asked to decide before one p.m. on the twenty-third of December.
  15. It took him only 1 hour to return the 3-page employment contract.


KeyNumber Style

Using Transitions for Paragraph Cohesion

Good paragraphs are built by using transitional words and phrases to glue ideas together, creating a logical and cohesive whole. Skilled writers use several techniques to make paragraphs stick together. One such technique is transitional expressions.


Transitional Expressions are words and phrases that add information, show time or order, clarify, show cause and effect, contradict, or contrast. These expressions are also used to show connections to achieve paragraph coherence. [A partial list of common transitional expressions appears at the end of this post.]

Example: In her current position, Ms. Cho manages a small sales team. At the same time, she assists with all strategic planning activities. In additionto those duties, Ms. Cho also develops her division’s budget; however, her staff accountant assists her with specific financials.

Your task. Choose a transitional expression to connect each set of the sentences below.

  1. Digital tools enable job seekers to invent or reinvent their careers. Digital tools alone can’t find workers a new job without their initiative, enthusiasm, and patience.
  2. Internet platforms can be addictive products that heighten users’ emotions and perpetuate polarization. Experts worry about security, surveillance, and privacy.
  3. One of the regrets of my life is that I didn’t work hard enough to stay in touch with my family and friends as I moved away for work. I am now estranged from loved ones and old friends.
  4. As people age, many find memory aids helpful. Memory aids also encourage laziness.
  5. Technology has brought considerable harm that should not be minimized. We need to correct some of the unintended consequences.
  6. Many say that the Internet has a dark side. Bullying and intolerance are flourishing.
  7. The technology that was supposed to break down divisions has heightened them. We’ve seen everything from election tampering to the demise of Net neutrality.
  8. As digital access continues to spread to the far corners of the planet, the good by far outweighs the harm. For example, people have access to online courses and information about their health. They can join special platforms that support their health and well-being.
  9. Machines are becoming increasingly capable of executing complex work tasks. Even many skilled jobs will be automated.
  10. The internet has changed the way people function, think, communicate, learn, collaborate, and conduct business. It is the greatest technological invention of the 20th century.
  11. All technology can be abused. On balance, internet technologies will continue to benefit us all.
  12. Structural changes in the economy will cause shifts in political power. Such profound changes can also be beneficial.

Transitional Expressions Table

Add or Strengthen Contradict or Compare Illustrate Contradict or Compare
furthermore however for example as a result
in addition in fact consequently
moreover nevertheless hence


Avoiding Misuse of You

When you write, reserve you for direct address. That is, use you only when you are addressing the reader of your message, for instance, in an e-mail to a specific recipient or when writing instructions for an assumed audience:  You will find references at the end of the book. Avoid the impersonal you in situations that require specific words identifying people, situations, or occurrences.

Poor:           You must pass several exams before being allowed to practice accounting.
[Here you is impersonal: The reader is not necessarily a future accountant.]

: Future CPAS must pass several exams before being allowed to practice.

Rephrase the sentences below to avoid the impersonal you.

  1. If you are a healthcare employer, you should consult OSHA publications to learn about workplace safety to help avoid common accidents.
  2. You can add veterinary coverage for employees’ pets to infuse more compassion into your benefits packages.
  3. You may not achieve salary parity with men if you don’t advocate for pay equity.
  4. Interning at a legal firm can give you an advantage if you want to pursue a career as an attorney.
  5. Using platitudes and clichés when giving a talk can make you sound insincere.
  6. When Bleinheim LLC was hiring, the firm required you to take a series of psychological tests to determine if you would fit into the corporate culture.
  7. Before the writing seminar, you were supposed to complete a self-assessment form.
  8. To improve an organization’s culture, you can ask your Human Relations director to develop workshops or one-on-one coaching for management positions.
  9. If you ask for an accommodation due to a medical condition, you may be able to telecommute.
  10. You have to be careful about pre-judging others, especially if you work for an organization that deals with different kinds of customers.

Avoiding Misuse of You Key