When using a fraction in a formal document, such as an essay, should you write it as words or numerals? It all depends on the situation! Check out our guide on how to write fractions in formal writing to find out more.\r\nHow to Write Fractions\r\nFractions represent parts of a whole. They do this with a numerator (i.e., the number of parts present) and a denominator (i.e., the number of parts that make up the whole). We can write them as numerals or words.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNumeral\r\nWord\r\n\r\n\r\n1\/2\r\nHalf\r\n\r\n\r\n3\/4\r\nThree quarters\r\n\r\n\r\n5\/8\r\nFive eighths\r\n\r\n\r\n17\/24\r\nSeventeen twenty-fourths\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u00a0 \r\nBut what are the rules about writing fractions? When should they be numerals and when should they be words? Let's take a look.\r\nFractions as Numerals\r\nTo write fractions as numerals, do it with the numerator above the denominator, separated by a line. For instance, if we cut something into three parts, each part would be "1\/3," and two parts would be "2\/3":\r\nHe ate 2\/3 of the pizza by himself!\r\nThere are various ways to write fractions as numerals. In the examples above, we have simply used a forward slash between the two numbers. But we could also use a division slash between superscript and subscript numbers (e.g., 1\u22152, 2\u22153) or a horizontal line known as a vinculum.\r\nThe correct format is usually a matter of preference, but you should check your style guide for advice if you are using one.\r\nYou can also write fractions as words. Let's look at how this works.\r\nFractions as Words\r\nWhen writing fractions as words, you need to give:\r\n\r\n\tThe numerator as a cardinal number (e.g., one, two, three).\r\n\tThe denominator as an ordinal number (e.g., third, fifth, sixth).\r\n\r\nFor instance, we would write "2\/3" as "two thirds":\r\nHe ate two thirds of the pizza by himself!\r\nThis applies for most fractions. But there are two exceptions that have their own words: half (1\/2) and quarter (1\/4). For instance:\r\nShe spent half the day asleep.\r\nWe have three quarters of the cake.\r\nHowever, you can use "fourths" in place of "quarters" in American English.\r\nShould You Write Fractions as Words or Numerals?\r\nSo, when should you write fractions as words and when should you write them as numerals? In less formal writing, as long as your meaning is clear, this is simply a matter of preference. But many style guides suggest writing out simple fractions as words in formal writing:\r\nThe subject completed 2\/3 of the exercises. \u2717\r\nThe subject completed two thirds of the exercises. \u2713\r\nYou can also do this for longer or more complex fractions:\r\nWe received feedback from seventeen twenty-fourths of the participants.\r\nBut numerals may be clearer in cases like this:\r\nWe received feedback from 17\/24 of the participants.\r\nIt ultimately comes down to which style guide you are using, so make sure to check if you have one. However, as a rule, we suggest:\r\n\r\n\tWriting fractions as words in the main text of a document.\r\n\tUsing numerals for fractions in measurements, tables of results, equations, and other primarily numerical data.\r\n\r\nAnd in the rest of this post, we will look at cases where you need to be careful about how you write fractions.\r\nFractions at the Beginning of a Sentence\r\nEven if you are writing fractions as numerals elsewhere, you should not start a sentence with a numeral. For example, the following would be incorrect:\r\n22\/7 is a good approximation of pi. \u2717\r\nTo avoid this, you would either need to write the fraction as words or rephrase the sentence so that it does not begin with a fraction:\r\nTwenty-two sevenths is a good approximation of pi. \u2713\r\nThe fraction 22\/7 is a good approximation for the mathematical value pi. \u2713\r\nMixed Fractions and Consistency\r\nA mixed fraction is a whole number followed by a fraction. If you use a mixed fraction in your writing, make sure to use a consistent style for the whole number and the fraction:\r\nThe boys ate 5 \u00bd pizzas. \u2713\r\nThe boys ate five and a half pizzas. \u2713\r\nNever mix words and numerals in a fraction:\r\nThe hungry boys ate thirty-three and \u00be of the pizzas. \u2717\r\nWhen to Hyphenate a Fraction\r\nSome people like to add a hyphen between the numerator and denominator when writing fractions as words. For instance, while we've written "two thirds" above, we could equally write it as "two-thirds":\r\nThe subject completed two-thirds of the exercises.\r\nUnless your style guide provides advice on this, it is simply a matter of preference (just remember to be consistent!). However, there are two cases where fractions should include a hyphen:\r\n\r\n\tWhen a fractions contains a compound number between twenty-one and ninety-nine (e.g., twenty-one thirtieths).\r\n\tWhen a fraction acts as either an adjective or an adverb to modify another word (e.g., They got a three-quarter share).\r\n\r\nSo make sure to look out for these cases, even if you're not hyphenating fractions elsewhere! And if you would like any extra help to make sure your writing is error free, why not submit a document for proofreading?