inclusive numbers

Thursday, January 8, 2009

OH MY GOD THIS IS SOOOOO BORING--but it has to be done, so when you feel like driving an iron spike through your brain (hint: enter through something squishy, like your eye or nose!), just glance over at the adorable kittens until you're ready to resume.


Let's do this.

Inclusive numbers are used to indicate a range of numbers, such as a range of years or the pages of a book. This range is typically indicated by the word "to" or a hyphen or en dash, all three mean, "up to and including":

  • World War II spanned from 1939 to 1945
  • Read chapters 3-7 for homework
  • On a scale of 1-10, I'd give her Shaunna's mom a [expletive deleted]
Believe it or not, there are rules for when to use "to" and when to use a hyphen or en dash. If the numbers are used after the words "from" or "between," you're not supposed to use a hyphen or en dash, so:
  • From 6:00 to 7:30 I waited not From 6:00-7:30 I waited
  • The project was between 60 and 80 percent complete not The project was between 60-80 percent complete
  • But Carrie's mom is somewhere between a slap on the [expletive deleted] and my tongue over her [expletive deleted] not But Carrie's mom is somewhere between a slap on the [expletive deleted]-tongue over her [expletive deleted].
Oftentimes you can omit a few of the numbers, too. Like if you're talking about a range of years in the 20th century, instead of writing out "1920-1975" you can write it as "1920-75." Because the years in our range both begin with "19," you can drop (or, as the style guide will say, "elide") that second 19.

Unfortunately, there's a bunch of rules regarding omissions, too.

For one, you can't omit numbers when there's only two digits. So you can't write, "Read pages 24 to 6"; you have to write, "Read pages 24 to 26."

You also can't omit numbers when the first number ends in 00: "300-309" is correct; "300-09" is not...and neither is "300-9."

Finally, you can't omit the tens digit from the latter number. I have no idea how to explain this, so I'll just use an example:
  • 123-26 not 123-6
  • 5,000,792-97 not 5,000,792-7
However, you're supposed to omit the tens digit when it's 0. So "302-6" is right; "302-06" is wrong.

That's about it. If you haven't already killed yourself, enjoy another adorable kitten: