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MLA Style Manual

Numbers and Dates

Dates in text should have a number rather than an ordinal.

April 6 (not April 6th)

Punctuate common forms of dates as follows:

April 1967 (no comma)
April 6, 1967 (comma after day of month; insert comma after year as well in running text)
1968–1972 (en dash)
May–June 1967 (en dash)
1965– (en dash for open-ended date)
fiscal year 1958/59 (eliminate century in the second year if it is the same)
school year 2004/05 (same as fiscal year)
association year 2004/05 (same as fiscal year)
1970s (no apostrophe)
the ’70s (apostrophe before year)

For months, use the following forms in references in all publications; do not follow with a period.


In MLA “Employment Opportunities,” use month/date/year format with numerals.

Use numerals, unless the year is at the beginning of a sentence. When referring to a decade, never use an apostrophe before the “s.”


Numerical lists imply rank or temporal order (first 1, then 2, or 1 is more important than 2). Do not number if no such order is intended. In lists that are run together in the text and number more than three, use numbered phrases. Set numbers in parentheses without periods.

(1) etc., (2) etc., (3) etc., and (4) etc. then
(a) etc., (b) etc., (c) etc., and (d) etc.

When items are indented without numbers, begin each new entry with a bullet, set flush left. When they are indented with numbers, the list is laid out the same way, but the bullet is replaced with a numeral and period.

1. etc.;
2. etc.;
3. etc.; and
4. etc.

Double-check alphabetical lists for correct order.

Hyphenate fractions:

A one-third share is sufficient.
She filed one-third of the cards.

Ratios may be given with numerals and a colon:

a 1:2 ratio

Close up spaces around mathematical symbols such as equal signs and less than or greater than symbols.


Spelling out measurements is preferred; when abbreviations are necessary, set them without periods.

20 km
30 ft

Spell out whole numbers. Use numerals with a multiplication symbol (×) in fractions.

three-by-five cards
2½ × 6-inch cards

Use the numeric form.

For currencies other than the US dollar, use the following formats.

$36.50 CAD for Canadian dollars (spell out “Canadian dollars (CAD)” the first time it appears)
£37.50 for British pounds
€42.75 for euros

other well-known currencies

37.50 Sw. fr. (figure followed by appropriate abbreviation)

lesser-known currencies

95 Haitian gourdes (figure followed by full name of currency)

Use (n=) with the “n” lowercase.

Use a comma in numbers higher than 999, with the exception of page numbers and years. Abbreviate “number” as “no.” when necessary or permitted. Always use the numeric form of numbers with decimal places. For numbers less than one, use a zero preceding the decimal point.


In the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA), formerly the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, text, spell out ordinal numbers less than 100:


In the text of MLA News articles, on MLANET, in monographs, and in other publications, abbreviate ordinals greater than nine. Spell out whole numbers in all publications’ text through ninety-nine:

one through 999,999
one million
101 million

In MLA News “Employment Opportunities” ads, all numbers are represented in numeric form.

Spell out and hyphenate fractions.

If any number in a paragraph requires numerals rather than spelled out numbers, (higher than one hundred, decimal, percentage, money, etc., excepting dates), set all the numbers in numerals.

The library in Johnson City received 124 loan requests during a 1-year period. The library in Smithfield, however, received 19 loan requests, and the library in Morgantown only 12.

Do not begin a sentence with a numeral. Write out the number in full, or recast the sentence.

Provide both numbers (n) and percents where applicable when reporting data.

(n=74, 56%)

If the denominator changes frequently, it is useful to present numbers as n=74/258; 29% unless the denominator is noted in the text.

Of 258 respondents, 74 (29%) indicated...

See also “abbreviations: when to use them” in the Abbreviations section.

In text, use numerals and “%.” Spell out the numeral and the word only if they begin the sentence. Where the percentage is less than 1%, add a decimal point and a zero.

One hundred percent of the students were in attendance.

The following are a few common statistical terms; set them as indicated. Text should be used rather than symbols, except for statistics or formulas.

χ2 test, chi= 4.321 set a Greek chi (χ); set the “2” superscript
t test “t” is italicized
p value, p = 0.05 “p” is italicized; report the exact p value when possible
df indicates “degrees of freedom”; set in italics
SEM indicates “standard error of the mean”; set in plain type
SD indicates “standard deviation”; set in plain type

Do not use ditto marks (") for repeated items; supply the numbers. Provide numbers (n), with percentages (where applicable) in the next column in parentheses. Use an em dash to indicate entries that are not supplied or are irrelevant; use a zero to indicate that a particular universe has none of the items in question. Do not use “0%”; that is mathematically impossible. If both real numbers and percentages happen to be zero, give just the real number and no percentage.

In running text, refer to each table by Arabic numeral. Do not use “see”:

Students preferred electronic reserves to print reserves (Table 1).

See also “figures (illustrations)” in the Miscellaneous section.

Use the following format:

312.419.9094 x743

Spell out the time of day in text for the JMLA.

At seven o'clock, the family rose.

If an exact moment is emphasized, use numerals.

At 7:35 a.m., the family rose.

Always use numerals when “a.m.” or “p.m.” are used.

At 7:00 a.m., the family rose.

Set “a.m.” and “p.m.” close, with periods.