Why do people (people) put numbers (numbers) in parentheses?

(An interesting note: This has become the most-read blog I have posted. It is also the most-commented blog I have posted with 75 comments. Thousands of people have read it, and it has been the subject of searches tens of thousands of times.) I occasionally re-read it, and I stand by my assertions here.)

I was reading an application for a grant program at our local library recently when I encountered a series of phrases that were couched in terminology that just set me afire with curiosity.

The author, who is a colleague of mine, had put Arabic numerals in parentheses after each mention of a number. For example:

The application shall be completed in three (3) parts, and with three (3) copies to be turned in by June 30, 2012.

I have always been irritated by this style of writing because it seems so insulting. Does the author think I’m stupid? Or do they think that I don’t know my numbers?

Where does this come from? Why do people (people) do this (this)?

I looked it up on Wikipedia, and I searched around the Interwebs a bit to find the source of the style, and it seems to be based in legal terminology, though even that seems specious. There is no law that says that you have to put numbers (numbers) in parentheses, nor is there any law that says that you have to assume that people don’t know their numbers.

Curiously, there is legal precedent that defines which of two entries of a number – the written-out version or the numerical version – is considered the valid one in the event that the two don’t agree (as when written on a check). The answer is that the written-out version is the one that banks accept as the correct version, and not the numeric entry. So, if the written version is the legal version, then we don’t even need the numerical version.

So, why do people do this? I don’t have any idea (idea).

Are these the same people who think that the word “paradigm” is a useful word, or those who use “myself” when they mean “me”?

I say it’s dumb (dumb), and it’s time to stop doing it (it). Because it’s really insulting (insulting) and we don’t need numbers (numbers) in parentheses. Ever (ever).

Here’s a suggestion: if you are tempted to put numbers in parentheses after putting them in words, just don’t do it. Instead, use the Chicago Manual of Style technique. Numbers from one to ten should be written-out as words. From eleven onward, put them as Arabic numerals. That’s simple, and it makes written numbers easier to read.

Thank you (you) for reading my blog (blog).

Addendum July 12, 2017:

Today I had an great idea! What if we put numbers as Arabic numerals, then follow them with Roman numerals? Here is an example:

Please ship 23 (XXIII) tantalum capacitors and 9 (IX) paper capacitors to my new address in Munich…

Does this seem absurd? To me it’s no more absurd that putting the numbers as words after the numerals, or numerals after words. Think it over.

January 2023 Addendumb (with emphasis on the dumb!)

This morning I received a promotional e-mail from United Airlines’ frequent flyer program. It offers miles and prizes to those who respond to an offer. And, in a perfect example of the stupidity of putting numbers in parentheses, it says the following:

Eight (8) winners (winners) will receive a year-long (one-year-long) subscription to an application that helps to reduce jet-lag! (jet-lag). Why?

Perhaps it would have been more clear if they had put the deadline date in both Indo-Arabic and Roman numerals to make it clearer? Enter by February 7 (VII), 2023 (MMXXIII).

I repeat my oft-repeated comment: do they think we’re stupid? Do they think that this makes them sound more sophisticated? Do they think it adds clarity to the numbers to repeat them?

This redundancy is just plain dumb. Stop it!

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is an Emeritus Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and was a Guest Professor at Hochschule München from September, 2021 to September, 2022. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
This entry was posted in Curmudgeon, Language and grammar, Mistakes you can avoid and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

155 Responses to Why do people (people) put numbers (numbers) in parentheses?

  1. Yep, it’s annoying, but your colleague isn’t necessarily the guilty party. It’s very possible that the grant program told him “that’s how we do it, in case we get audited/we get sued/somebody files late, or forgets to put the original in with the copies, or forgets to fill out all three parts . . .”.

    It’s a hedge against failure modes, man. Bummer. (not my usual lingo)

    I stumbled across your blog (short for web-log—why don’t we spell it “’blog”?) from the link Jennifer Bell at ProSoft put up. Congrats on recovering those images.


  2. amanda says:

    I know you wrote this a while ago, but you have absolutely nailed how I feel about my new boss. She writes all her numbers twice (2). Nuts (nuts) nuts).

    And I bet she would totally use “paradigm.”

    And she keeps using “comprise of” and we don’t even work in real estate!

    Thanks for the vent.

  3. David says:

    I find this really annoying as well. I have searched the web several times for a logical explanation. I assumed there must be one, but it appears there is not. Thanks for stating it so plainly.

    One other point — I was always taught that numbers should also be written-out whenever they appear as the first word in a sentence.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      This past week we were told at the university that each student would receive four (4) tickets for guests at graduation. I cringed as I read this (this). Why, oh why do people persist in reiterating numbers? Do they think we’re stupid? Do we need to be told twice that we can bring only four guests?

      I think that most style manuals would agree on the concept of spelling numbers at the beginning of sentences. It would be awkward to see a set of numerals at the beginning of a sentence.

      Thank you for your comment. You and I can now cringe together (together).


    • Stuart says:

      So I realize this is an 8 year-old comment, but I really wanted to give my two cents. This trend annoys me as well, but in the digital age I actually thinks it serves the useful purpose of making things more searchable. So if you’re looking for, say, where a document mentions something you remember being in the thousands, you can hit “1” and find all the results instead of having to put “one” and then getting all the words like “done” and “stone,” etc.

      I don’t know if that niche use case justifies it, but it might at least be some retroactive reasoning.

      • Brian Lawler says:

        Has it really been 8 years? Heavens!

        I agree that putting numbers as numerals makes them more searchable, but I don’t think it justifies putting them in words and numerals. Just use numerals, and call it a day.

        Thank you for your thoughts on this.


        Brian P. Lawler
        The Blognosticator

  4. Kristy says:

    I put numbers in parentheses after each written numeral as I know the documents I work on will be audited and my email correspondance can be used as evidence in my line of work.

    Having written many laboratory procedural documents, the numeral is what people read (a quick reference) the text is when they want to double check that the numeral is correct.

    ie One (1) g – Chemical X

    If they see: One (10) g – they know the typo is in the numeral and discount it, if they see Onn (1) g, they know the typo is in the word.

    This is not because I believe people are stupid. This is because I know that I am fallible and I find it safer to provide a self checking mechanism into my work against any errors that may occur.

    Knowing that I could cause someone serious injury by mistyping a quantity in a procedure is enough reason to ignore any slight irritation the practice may incur.

    I do not do this in my personal email or other form of correspondence.

    Maybe it should be seen as the person wanting to ensure you are well informed, or that you are protected against their own mistakes rather than as a slight against your ability.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Thank you, Kristy, for your comment.

      How do you know that the reader will assume the error to be the number in parentheses, and not the word?

      What if it says: Place Ten (11) mg. of ricin in the subject’s coffee?

      Is it ten, or eleven?

      I appreciate the idea that you are doing this in the interest of clarity, but I don’t think it adds clarity.

      Wouldn’t it be better just to be sure your numerals are correct?


      • K.G. says:

        Because people make mistakes, and in some fields that can be quite problematic – the knowledge that there IS a discrepancy can be important. In many scientific fields, as well as in regards to the law, a single number can prove exceedingly important if mistaken. I’m not sure who couldn’t understand that for themselves, only a moron would respond with “why can’t you just make sure you never, ever, EVER make a mistake?!”

        • Brandon says:

          As Brian pointed out, what if it says ten (11)? Which one is correct? The only scenario where adding the number provides clarity is one in which the text is already correct. When it’s not correct (or the arabic numeral is not correct) it is entirely pointless. When they are both correct it is even more pointless.

          I think it’s a bit harsh to say only a moron would say to never make a mistake. The flipside of that is that only a moron would not double check their numbers for accuracy.

          As an engineer I never, EVER rely on double typing my numbers for accuracy. I instead type them a single time and then check them for accuracy.

          This is a useless activity that I refuse to participate in.

        • Ethan says:

          K.G. your logic is rock solid, and the exact reason why I make it a practice to use both words and numbers when corresponding with clients and contractors (I am an architect). Assuming that I am perfect and will not make a mistake would be foolish. If I make a mistake with a written quantity it can cost people time and money, so by writing both it provides an extra means of checking for accuracy for every pair of eyes that views it.

          I believe the people who take offense to this practice might be a tad insecure that they would assume the purpose behind it is an lack of confidence in their intelligence.

          • Brian Lawler says:

            Dear Ethan,

            I guess I’m “a tad insecure” that I think duplicating numbers in parentheses is dumb. So be it!

            I stand by my argument. Putting numbers (numbers) in text twice is unnecessary. We can have different opinions on this (this).

            Thank you for your comment,

            Brian P. Lawler

          • Moira says:

            I work for an electrical contracting company, and when I’m typing up quotes/bids, I will often put numbers in parentheses without writing them out at all. Example, “The revised plan shows (8) conduits with only (6) being used. We figured five sets, which total 2000 Amps, using 900 MCM Alum.”
            I do this because those numbers are more relevant, and when reading fast, it’s easy to skip over a single number, or a word, so this brings attention to them in a simple way.
            A lot of people in this industry do similar things (some do the double numbers, as discussed), and I never thought to question it, but stumbled upon this post and it intrigued me.
            We’re never assuming anyone is dumb, but where we’re quoting specific budgets that are based on plans/drawings and quantities, setting the important numbers apart from the rest of the text makes for easier referencing.

          • Brian Lawler says:

            Dear Moira,

            I agree that your system makes those numbers stand out a bit. And, you’re at least not repeating them.

            Best wishes,

            Brian P. Lawler

        • LiliRoze says:

          Thank you for spelling this out (see what I did there?)? I am a paralegal who writes contracts day in and day out, and you would be surprised how many times I’ve send a final version of a contract have errors between the written numeral and the parenthetical integer. I can tell you why it is this way – because one day, a court will decide the fate of that phrase, and millions of dollars will hang in the balance because when redlines are flying back and forth, one party stated thirty (30) days, and the other party changed it to thirty (45), and the judge said, “tough crap, the written number is the legal numeral.”

          ANNNNND – K.G., you are absolutely correct that humans write contracts, and humans make mistakes. Having to write the numeral and also the parenthetical integer, it causes the writer to pay attention to what the writer is writing.

          This is the same reason why, when one appears for jury duty, the court member will repeat three times, “turn off your cell phones,” “turn off your cell phones,” “turn off your cell phones,” and you will still hear a cell phone go half halfway through the opening arguments. (notice I didnt repeat the integer in parentheses, because this isn’t a legal document).

          The author is insulted by the practice, and I am concerned that he takes it so personally. The practice is not meant for him; clearly, it is meant for the people who require it for legal, auditory, regulatory, or other reasons. So the author should be glad he doesn’t require it, keep reading, and stop feeling personally insulted. Life is too short.

          • Brian Lawler says:

            Dear LiliRose,

            Thank you for your erudite comments on the practice of duplicating numbers. I am intrigued. When you say that the court will rule that the “written” number is binding, which is the “written” one? The Indo-Arabic or the printed English words for the numbers?

            And, in either case, what if you just had one number (either words or numerals) and not a duplicate? Wouldn’t that then mean that the ONLY number is the number that the court would rule as binding?

            So I would argue that putting the numbers in just once would cause less trouble, since legal proofreaders would not make the mistake of correcting (or changing) one and not the other.

            I am not insulted by the practice; I just find it silly. You’re right: life is short. I don’t spend much time worrying about this, but it does get a lot of attention on my blog.

            In any event, thank you for your comments. I really appreciate your input.


            Brian P. Lawler
            The Blognosticator

    • Kinbote says:

      I’d see errors coming from two (2) sources: typos and brain farts.

      For the first source, it’s really easy to mistype numerals because of how they’re laid out on the keyboard, but I would say it’s borderline impossible to mistype a spelled-out number in such a way that it will be interpreted as a different number.

      For the second source, if, say, ’57’ somehow gets transposed to ’75’ in someone’s brain sometime between reading the number from the original and typing it into their document, chances are they’re going to write wrong twice because that’s what’s in their head.

      So by spelling out the numbers you’ve already avoided errors from the first source and are only introducing uncertainty by adding the unreliable digits, and you still have no protection against errors from the second source.

      • Brian Lawler says:

        I am intrigued by your comments, but I don’t buy it. Most people aren’t stupid. We all make mistakes, but we make mistakes in both words and numbers. Why (why) don’t (don’t) we (we) put (put) words (words) in parentheses to double-state them in case someone mis-reads them?

        I find it absurd that an instruction sheet tells me to take four (4) screws and put them into four (4) holes in the cabinet side. Give me a break! Just tell me to to put the four screws in the cabinet and be done with it.

        Am I going to try to put five (5) screws in four (4) screw holes?

        It’s dumb, and I continue to assert that I don’t think we need to do this. So, let’s all stop. Today.

        • Kinbote says:

          Yeah, I’m agreeing that it’s redundant. Spelled-out numbers are not going to get typoed in a way that would make one number be mistaken for another, and using the double entry method, if someone’s thinking the wrong number when they enter it, they’ll just enter it wrong twice. The only result that’s likely from the double entry method is that someone occasionally mistypes the digit, in which case they’ve only added confusion, not confidence.

          So not only is it ugly and insulting to the reader, but it’s likely to create the problem it’s meant to solve.

        • Maj says:

          I write the number and use parentheses, not because the reader is ‘dumb’, but it is formal and signifies a word that can also be written in a numerical expression. The parentheses indicate a number, rather than a misspelling, a homonym, or other. Accuracy and clarity.

          The reason you don’t put words in parentheses to double write them is because there’s no alternate way to write that word. There’s not a number sequence that you pronounce the same way. For example, “for” is a homonym of four – but 4 (the number) doesn’t mean “for”.

          • Brian Lawler says:

            Dear Maj,

            I accept your response, but still argue that it’s largely unnecessary for normal writing and reading to repeat the numbers. It’s usually awkward, and it always interrupts the flow of reading.

            Best wishes,

            Brian P. Lawler

    • Andrew says:

      (3) Year old post on a (4) year old thread, but I’d like to add my two (2) cents because I believe it’s pretty intuitive. I don’t know when I started doing it or if I even picked it up anywhere. I manage a number of science labs and will generally use this when writing protocols or making inventories. I believe it provides any easier method or referencing when your set-ups/inventories contain some essential but possibly extraneous information, with regard to the actual action of setting up and organizing a lab.

      When you’re looking at a long list of chemicals in a dense protocol, you’ve already looked at the name of the chemical and where it is located. But now you’ve looked away to obtain the chemicals, or place them in the correct location, or something. Depending on your formatting, you now just want to be able to glance back and access the quantity of reagent or supply needed. Having quantities in parentheses, for me, makes it easier to quickly glance and access that quantitative information, when the name of the reagent, notes on placement, etc. are already known and have become a nuisance, visually.

      • Brian Lawler says:

        Hi Andrew,

        This sounds logical. But do you repeat the numbers? Or do you just put the numbers in parens?

        What irks me, and is the topic of my blog, is the unnecessary repetition of numbers with parenthetical numbers.

        Brian P. Lawler

        • Adam says:

          Dear Brian,

          If putting numbers in parenthesis is unnecessarily redundant, then so is addressing an internet comment with “Dear …” and signing it with your name.

          This is is internet – we can clearly see whom the comment would have been addressed to (Andrew), and we can also see who wrote the comment (Brian Lawler), so you don’t need to address and sign every post you make.

          “…But it’s good practice and makes it more formal.” you might argue.

          True, but so is adding numerals in parenthesis where there are legal, financial and safety implications.

          That said, thank you for this blog post, it was a good read.

          Captain Raymond Holt.

  5. Robert Nunn says:

    My unsubstantiated guess is that the practice is a carry-over from the days when documents were hand written or forms with blanks that were filled in by hand. Poor handwriting might make the written part illegible, but using only Arabic numerals might be subject to alteration. Combining the two would presumably solve both problems. Its definitely an unnecessary irritation in a modern document.

  6. Jordan Smith says:

    Thanks for this, Brian. I find the whole parentheses thing really annoying as well, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject.

    Just one correction: Chicago’s rule is to spell out numbers from zero to one hundred (see 9.2), not just from one to ten like you mentioned. It’s AP style that recommends spelling out whole numbers below ten.

  7. Nancy says:

    I am so with you on this! And how about those people who insist on using acronyms for everything? And they make up their own acronyms, and you don’t know what they mean? These are probably often the same people!

  8. Michael says:

    I agree that it is totally unnecessary to include the Arabic numeral after the written number. I tend to use initial-isms in my work emails and documents. Typically they are titles and used by many in the department. Though when I write a document to be published formally I’ll write the title in its entirety the first time with the initial-ism in parenthesizes immediately following. From this point on in the document I’ll use the initial-ism when referring to the title.

  9. Eugene says:

    From past experiences:

    If someone uses a search function in a browser or a word document, do they use numerals or the spelling version? A reader might search with the wrong term if both aren’t written, consequently leading him/her to an wrong decision. Having both solves that problem. Especially, when different writing styles have different guiding principles on when to use numerals or when to spell out a number.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      I disagree. If you duplicate numbers so that they can be searched, why not duplicate everything in the document so it can be searched?

      Aren’t we humans smarter than that?

      The use of duplicated parenthetical numbers is just plain dumb, and we can all stop doing it now.

      My humble (humble) opinion (opinion).


  10. Jonathan says:

    I (Jonathan) think (believe) that we should (ought) to (2) start (begin) to add numbers (digits) after Roman numerals, such as Section (part) IV (4). After all, people (y’all) do make mistakes (errors) writing (typing) those too (also).

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Jonathan,

      I (Brian) agree (believe) that you have made me laugh (chuckle). Thank you for your input on this timely matter.

      I recently attended a 50th anniversary event where the T shirt said WHAMOBASS L. In parens, it added (50) which also made me chuckle.


  11. Nicole says:

    I always thought it was to draw attention to specific quantities given in a contract so that you didn’t have to peruse the entire text looking for the specifics. If it’s written out and the number is put in parenthesis then that form’s a specific visual pattern that makes it very easy for the reader to identify the key quantities. Now I’m an engineer, not a lawyer, but I have some experience writing scope packages and I’ve used the number in parenthesis as a tool to identify a key quantity and draw attention to it.

  12. Stefano says:

    I wonder how many people spell out large numbers and then put the numerals in parentheses. I suspect that most people who spell out numbers and then put the corresponding numeral in parentheses do not spell out large numbers. They simply write the numerals!

    Example: The population of the town is forty-six thousand, two hundred and sixty-three (46,263). I bet most people wouldn’t write this.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Stefano,

      Common style manuals like AP and Chicago suggest that numbers from one to ten be spelled-out, and that numbers larger than ten be typed as numerals.

      I follow that style ten times out of 11.


  13. Charlie Furr says:

    I have no hard evidence for this, but I suspect the numerals in parenthesis are a hang over from handwritten documents, in which it would have been easy to misinterprete the written word, particularly in legal documents (hence the inertia of the legal profession maybe?)

  14. Laura says:

    Thanks for making my day – you made me laugh! The reason I did a web search on this is because my boss always does this in her writing. She also always says “myself” instead of “me”.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Laura,

      Thank you for making ME laugh! Myself enjoys getting responses to my blog. I have received nine (9) or ten (10) replies this month alone on this topic, so I know that it’s an irritant to many people.

      I just took a flight on U.S. Airways where a sign told me I could carry one (1) carry-on bag on the plane.

      I was relieved to read that sign, because I wasn’t sure what “one” meant, and having the number 1 follow it in parentheses made it SO much clearer.

      They also told us that we could pick-up our checked bags in the terminal after we deplaned. This announcement came, of course, after we had enplaned (I guess).

      Best wishes to you!

      Brian P. Lawler

      • Charles says:

        I would think the construction of “en-” + “planed” would be *emplaned, being a nasal-labial assimilation similar to “embarked” (being the same action for a bark / ship). Although this raises the issue that one should really be “disemplaning” — cf. “disembarking” — rather than “deplaning”!

        My suspicion regarding the main thrust of the post is that perhaps it is a compromise between deference to a Manual of Style requirement for written numbers (as you have mentioned) and the practicality/clarity of numerals. I.e. writing “7” would be clearer but we are instructed to write “seven”, so we compromise to writing both – “seven (7)”.

        • Brian Lawler says:

          Dear Charles,

          I like your analysis! I often think about this as a detrain or debus, sometimes even when I decar. I don’t see putting both numerals and written numbers as a “compromise,” though. I see it as superfluous nonsense.

          A recent e-mail memo from my university contained a word I have never seen (nor imagined) before: verticalize. Though I occasionally horizontalize in the late afternoons, I don’t believe that I have ever, or ever will verticalize.

          Language is such fun!

          Best wishes,

          Brian P. Lawler
          The Blognosticator

  15. Aiden says:

    As an attorney who drafts contracts upon contracts, I do this on a daily basis. And with good reason! As one of the previous comments said, its for clarity in case there’s a typo. If a contract or other document specifies a dollar amount or a number of days that someone has to do something, a number written just numerically could easily be transposed. If the parties end up disputing the number in a legal action, the number as it is written out is that one that controls. So if the parties agreed to a purchase price of $153,000, but it was typed out mistakenly as $15300, that would be a big difference. But “one hundred fifty-three thousand dollars ($15300)” means its more likely than not that the amount was supposed to be the number as its written out, so that’s the one that will be honored. It’s for clarity and to avoid any potential ambiguity, not because we think people are stupid and can’t read numbers. Lawyers like to overkill everything, even if it seems stupid or redundant to do so. But its a CYA thing for us and our clients.

    Stefano, I would ABSOLUTELY write that the population is forty-six thousand, two hundred and sixty-three (46,263). If the context called for it, of course.

    That’s why us lawyers do it, at least. Can’t tell you why anybody else would. I certainly dont do that in my civilian life!

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Aidan’s comments are greatly appreciated. I understand why lawyers would enter the numbers as both words and numbers in parentheses.

      OK. That’s fine.

      But why does U.S Airways say: “You are allowed one (1) carry-on bag, and one (1) personal item on board.” This, I contend, is REALLY SILLY. You are allowed one, just one statement of a number on a sign. We do not need two (2) statements of numbers on a sign.

      We’re not stupid; we know that one means one.

      Thank you,


    • Brad says:

      Aiden, be careful though… here’s a cautionary tale. It might be better to just repeat the digit version twice, rather than spell it out, to avoid “hard to parse a sentence, so one just relies on the digits” errors like this one: http://www.adamsdrafting.com/the-texas-court-of-appeals-on-words-and-digits-inconsistency/

  16. Erin says:

    I am late to this party, but this post and these comments have made my day. This is the most ridiculous practice ever, regardless of your occupation.

    I consistently read the numeral in parentheses in the whisper voice of Brick from The Middle when he used to whisper-repeat everything he said. This at least makes the repetition easier to deal with.

    • Laurel says:

      OMG, I’ve just gone down the Brick whispering rabbit hole. One (1) of my favorite things ever (EVER).

      • Brian Lawler says:

        (whispering) Thank you for your comment on the blog. I find it fascinating that it transcends cultures also. I live in Germany now, and I was asked to fill in a form at my university last week (in German, still whispering) that had numbers in words (and numerals) also. I chuckled when I saw this as it further underscores my comments about this weird practice.

  17. Paul says:

    The response from attorney Aiden makes sense and I can see using two forms of a number in some types of legal documents, particularly for big numbers. And there is an element of logic in the argument that numbers are used because they’re quick to read and absorb, while words are far more “safe”. A small error expressing “75” as “57” may be impossible to catch, but the meaning of “sevetny-five” is still clear, despite containing essentially the same error. But the use of words and numbers is far too common and in many cases just ridiculous and, as many people have expressed, really irritating. I don’t even entirely buy the argument that it should be done because numbers can be extremely important, even critical. I was a commercial pilot. Aviation manuals never use two forms, even though a transposition of digits or being “off” by one number could be the difference between life and death, in countless different ways. We had a better system — getting it right and not duplicating information as an excuse for sloppiness.

  18. Kathy says:

    I am reading this because it also drives me crazy, and while I have an “explanation” for it, I wondered if there was a different (possibly more accurate) one. Typewriters (and I’m old enough to have used them, even non-electric ones!), prior to the more “modern” ones (if I can say that, since no one uses typewriters at all anymore), didn’t have different fonts. Also, they either they didn’t have a key for all of the numbers from 0 to 9, and so they used the letter L (lower case) for the number one. I can’t remember what other substitutes there may have been, possibly using the letter O for zero. Anyway, because using the letter as the number could be confusing, they both spelled 10 and wrote the Arabic number, and put one of them in parentheses–I forget which. “Ten (l0) or l0 (ten).” The Arabic number ten looks more like the word “lo”. If the number was 100, someone might mistake it for a reference to the bathroom (“loo”). Using Roman numerals could’ve solved all that! Okay, so I don’t know if they did that double-number thing for all numbers, or just those with the number one involved. Anyway, it was a habit that was so ingrained that it stuck even after new typewriters were designed with keys for 0-9. And yet people still continue doing it to this day (darn it!) even though they don’t use typewriters and they have no idea why they are doing it!

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Kathy,

      Apologies for not replying sooner. I was at Burning Man again this year, and there was a huge typewriter out on the Playa. I jumped from key to key, spelling out my name (the typewriter didn’t actually work, though).

      I, too, am a victim of the manual typewriter, having taken business classes as a young teen (at my father’s insistence). We had to type in time to music on training typewriters that had no printing on the keys!

      And, there was no numeral 1, so we used the lower-case l for ones. It was awful.

      I did meet some nice girls in that class, though! They taught me how to type better.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

    • Scarlet says:

      They used the lowercase l but the capital O. 1O=10. The 1 and the l are exactly the same in some fonts, less so in others.

      • Brian Lawler says:

        I took a typing class in the early 1960s where we used mechanical typewriters, and we used the lower-case l for the one and the cap O for the zero. It was painful.

        Even more painful was that the typewriters had no marks on the keys, so we really had to learn to touch-type!

        Brian P. Lawler

  19. Don says:

    I’m late to the party too, but I agree completely that the practice of repeating numbers is just silly; a great example of legalese run amok. But even the legal reason offered earlier is specious: for one thing, if there’s a potential problem writing numerals, then don’t write them at all, and certainly don’t write “One (1) bag only” in an airport sign, where there can be no chance of numerical dyslexia. Also, if lawyers are so worried about the consequences of a typo, shouldn’t they repeat everything? For example, why don’t they then write a legal instruction “To buy one house (dwelling)” to prevent a spelling error that would make the sentence “To buy one horse”?

    This kind of silliness in our modern written language goes further than the “One (1) bag only” example. See the screaming capitals and bad grammar in disclaimers, such as “BECAUSE THE PROGRAM IS LICENSED FREE OF CHARGE, THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE PROGRAM”. Is upper case (and repetition) somehow more exact and less prone to error than lower case? Or consider the flow-on effect of our helping computers do their job. To ensure computers order their dates correctly in, say, file names, good practice writes numbers in those file names with the maximum number of digits they’ll ever have (i.e. 2 digits for a date), making the first day of the month “01”. This “01” makes sense when written for current computers, which tend to follow unsophisticated rules for ordering strings of characters and so need the zero; but the fad has caught on, and now many people write their dates as “01 May” instead of either “1” or “1st”, even when there’s no computer in sight. Some magazines now number their pages 01, 02, etc. I’ve even seen pages numbered 001, 002. And some airports write “Gate 01” instead of “Gate 1”. Have they forgotten that leading zeroes don’t count, and no computer will ever need to scan their gate signage? Also, computers that print “01” instead of “1” do so sometimes purely due to programmers who think “01” is more correct; and so the cycle perpetuates.

    I think the use of irritating writing ultimately has nothing to do with legalese, and even very little to do with computers. It probably has more to do with the fact that such writing catches our eye, in the same primal way that humans have evolved to notice anything out of the ordinary as a possible threat to their existence. We have a herd instinct that tells us to go with the flow, and if the flow looks weird, we’ll blindly follow it anyway, and assume there must be an underlying good reason for the weirdness. I think this encourages some to deliberately create stuff that looks weird. The idea has caught on that bad grammar that catches our eye must have been carefully and deliberately crafted to be more “correct” or “legal” than normal writing, which makes it “Important” with a capital I. So, write “one (1)”, use screaming capitals, replace a simple word such as “buy” with “purchase”, invent a strange concoction such as “on-sell” to replace “sell”; then remove almost all commas, and repeat words and phrases in tedious ways. If a lawyer argues that such poor writing is more correct, then I can only hope that such a misleading level of argument is never applied in a court case. Unfortunately, too often it is.

    Lastly, I don’t think a rule like “all numbers below ten should be written in full, and others as numerals” should be rigidly adhered to. Writing numbers as numerals can be about visual recognition, such as “The first digit of pi is 3”, or “Consider adding 3 and 5 to make 8”. We can mentally process these sentences quickly when we see digits instead of written numbers.

  20. david says:

    How many times have you written the wrong date? Not any more for me. From now on it is September Sixteenth (16), two thousand fifteen (2015). Lawyers… wake up and take action on this!

    • Lew says:

      I’m a little confused as to the month you are referring. Shouldn’t that be “September (9) Sixteenth (16), two thousand fifteen (2015)?”

      • Brian Lawler says:

        Hi Lew,

        Gosh! I’m sorry! I should have been more clear on that. It was indeed September (9) Sixteenth (16), etc.

        I saw a new variation on this absurdity recently at the university when I received a memo that had the numbers presented this way:

        You will send two (2) and one-half (1/2) ounces of antimatter to the Provost’s office with your application.

        I just love the things that people do to clarify (clarify) their texts.

        Brian P. Lawler

  21. Brian Lawler says:

    Hi folks!

    This is by far my most popular blog of all time. Thank you all for your comments.

    This morning I encountered one of the dumbest applications of numbers-in-parentheses that I have ever seen. It came from Tivo, the makers of the wonderful television control boxes. It reads like this:

    For purchases through any other retail sales channel, your initial service subscription will be a Year-Included Plan, which subsequently will roll over automatically into successive annual service plans at the then-published rate (currently $149.99/year, plus any applicable taxes).1 Upon activation, you will have the option of upgrading your service subscription to an All-In Plan, for a one (1)-time payment at the then-published All-In Plan upgrade rate (which currently is $599.99, plus any applicable taxes).4

    I couldn’t believe that they interrupted the one-time payment phrase with the number 1 in parentheses. How Stupid Do We Look To You? Are we so dumb that we don’t know the meaning of the number one?

    Can everyone just stop this nonsense? Please?


  22. David says:

    Whenever I see two(2) numbers, one written and one numeral in parentheses, I assume the author wants me to multiply them. So, ten(10) is actually 100. 😉

  23. Lew says:

    I always knew that the written out number on a check took precedence over the numerals if they happen to be different so I have never really been bothered by people duplicating their numbers with a numeral in parentheses after it being written out. Recently, I received an e-mail from a friend where he ONLY put the numeral in the e-mail, but he still put it within parentheses. I guess he thinks that you don’t need to have the number duplicated in text and numerals, but still believes that numerals must be enclosed in parentheses. Very strange!

    For the record, I was taught that numbers less than (and not including) 10 should be written out and numerals should be used for anything greater than nine. (I am so tempted to put a “9” after the word, but I’ll refrain from it!)

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Lew,

      I follow the style of Chicago on numbers, typing them as words from one to ten, then I switch to numerals. That’s quite common and agreed upon by most writer’s guides. It makes things consistent.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  24. Mr_Bonc says:

    As an engineer, I regularly spell out most to all of my numbers. If an engineering number or quantity is wrong, this could be a matter of life and death. If an aircraft part I designed is made from a single listed number versus having the immediate check of the spelled out number, an error may be avoided. Its not fool proof, as nothing is, but for the fools responding saying they are offended by such a practice are exactly that, foolish. There are plenty of other things for you to worry about, hopefully you don’t worry about what the maximum stress on a support beam on a jet aircraft is, or if the number had a typo which might have been avoided by this method.

    One last thing, for those so insulted by such a trivial practice that is easy to read thru. How many of you critics only list the number value on a check and don’t write out the actual value on the check to aid in an accounting error. I doubt most of the complainers on here only list the numbers. Hypocritical, but I bet I’m correct on that one (1).

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Mr. Bonc,

      Am I to believe that you put printed numbers – one, two, three – and parenthetical numerals (1,2,3) on your engineering drawings? That seems absurd.

      I stand my ground on this, and continue to argue that is a silly practice to put numbers twice on documents.

      Brian P. Lawler

    • Peter says:

      I’m an engineer too, and I *HATE* this practice because in the modern era it actually causes errors.

      It is 2017 (Happy New Year!), the best way to avoid errors is to automate, automate, automate. I use VBA programming to double check all the quantities and such in my final documents against the calc sheets.

      Unfortunately, the company standard is for the stupid parenthetical numbers. Which means my macro ends up telling me ALL of the quantities are wrong because “One (1)” does not actually equal “1” and so on. Which means I am stuck visually double-checking my quantities, which, IMHO is not really double-checking at all. It’s just two opportunities to screw up.

      Why can’t I just use the numeral? People can read it.

      • Teddy Scralo says:

        I’ve always understood it to clarify or confirm the quantity of something rated with a number, especially in engineering and technical writing. This prevents the two numerals from being mistaken as one number. Such as Two (2) 50 Ton Air Conditioning Units, which could be mistaken for Two 250 Ton Air Conditioning Units (Which would be written as Two (2) 250 Ton Air Conditioning Units). Now, to be congruent within a sentence or document, you would continue to clarify quantities with parenthesis, even if it is describing something without a number. Such as: Included are Two (2) 2 Pole Breakers, Five (5) 480V Disconnects, and Fifty (50) widgets.

        That being said, I don’t believe that all numbers in technical writing should be put in parentheses. If Two (2) 50 Ton Air Conditioning Units are going to be installed first, and Two (2) 250 Ton Air Conditioning Units are going to be installed two weeks later; there is no need to specify two (2) weeks later. Doing so is too specific to represent a standalone two (2)… 😉

        • Brian Lawler says:

          Hi Teddy,

          That’s also my understanding, but I assert that it’s not necessary. If it provides clarity to anyone, then fine, but in most cases, putting the numbers in twice is silly.

          Thank you for your comment.

          Brian P. Lawler

          • John says:

            You should always be clear and say “a quantity of two air conditioning units, each with a duty of 50 tons.” Sorry, it’s verbose, but very clear. The purpose of writing is not so much efficiency as communication. Oh, and there’s no reason to capitalize “air conditioning units,” because if you write extensive technical texts, or even write extensively technical texts, or maybe extensively write technical texts, you’ll find it just gets Out of Hand. (Don’t get me started on the loss of the adverb, confusion over the comma and the moronic, unnecessary introduction of the hyphen.)

            The fundamental problem with your objection is that people who shouldn’t be wielding English are. I’ll actually posit: English is one of the worst languages for weak authors. It’s so easy to write terribly confusing sentences. As an example, the exponent of this is Japanese, which by some accounts is one of the most “advanced” languages, yet also one of the most confusing. Many Japanese scientists thus prefer to write in English. English has well degenerated and is on its way to becoming that undefined.

            Latin had a lot of respect…. Can you imagine why?

  25. Brian P. Lawler says:

    In the latest installment of this silly topic, I recently encountered another document at the university where the spelled-out number was in parentheses, and the numeral were not:

    Send 3 (three) copies of the form A110A to the Provost’s office.

    I hadn’t seen that one before. And, a day later I encountered this fine example:

    Start by choosing (3) candidates, and then pass those candidates’ names to the Dean’s office with form 117A.

    Don’t bother with the spelled-out version, but put all numerals in parentheses!

    Never makes any sense to me!


    • Em says:

      What’s really annoying about these is not so much that the writer thinks we (the readers) are dumb but that they have so confidently and so thoughtlessly proceeded with their ridiculous approach. It makes me want to shake them and say “what are you thinking!?”

  26. Jack Day, CMfgE says:

    I stumbled onto this discussion while questioning one of my own writing habits. My sixty-five years of written communication have covered handwriting, cursive, type-writers, printing, publishing, engineering drawings, dot-matrix printing, etc. Somewhere along the line, I picked up the habit of putting quantity numerals in parenthesis. I’m not sure who, what, or where the directive to do that came from, because (65) years of instruction is difficult to filter through. Not one of my thousands of readers ever complained about my habit, or attempted to correct me; so I suppose the expression didn’t confuse them. Today it seems unusual, so I’ll break the habit. I’m still curious about where it may have originated.

  27. CM says:

    It is not efficient, it is not error-correcting nor does it prevent misunderstanding. It is pretentious, and people only do it to appear more important and sophisticated.

  28. MichelMunier says:

    I came to this blog really searching for when to spell a number or use its arabic form. ( I got two (2)! good answers 1) (1) Spell 1~10 and 2) (Two) or (two) 1~100. I like to ramble on with diaries writing and felt uncomfortable writing digit in my text. So now I have a better idea.
    But this blog is quite interesting and shows the colour (color) of our mix society.
    I personally (myself) prefer people who are not so categorical and think of different situations where such use may be legit and useful.
    Certainly in scientific field of writing I believe an extra version of the number is for the least helpful, and I think, visually often a bonus.
    Then I must (myself) admit that I don’t remember coming across repetition of spelling and digit in text, perhaps in culinary recipes, but if I did I rather liked it or did not notice it. May be I’m (myself) am a moron!
    As for “myself” (myself) My original language use this form to emphasise (++++) situation. “me” or “I” can often be ordinary or casual with not real intention to signify the person (himself or herself or itself). Therefore in certain situation it add precision to the sentence.
    As for the annoyance, since I (myself) don’t remember much being affected by it… Speaking for (myself) I can’t really comment further than appreciate that is may be annoying when one (not 1) is bombarded with such repetition…
    My! I was suppose to be productive with my own work and what do I do… ?
    I was trying to review all this but can’t find a way to see the entire text on my page? So leave it as is.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Michel,

      I always enjoy getting comments on this subject, as it keeps the conversation going. I continue to be irked by people who put numbers in parentheses, as they add no value to communication. I thank you for your comment on my blog.


  29. Michel m says:

    You’re very welcome and I thank you back for having that blog!
    I’m quite satisfied with the simple answer – and now I try to apply it so up to two digits I make a point to have it spelt and beyond use numerals. I seldom write in one shot and so will use numbers for the draft but change it after.

  30. Carr13 says:

    I actually think (a large majority of) people are stupid; not only with regard to this post, but also, generally speaking.

    However, for the interest of this specific topic –
    I am getting married, and in my correspondence with my vendors, I write out single digit numbers, followed by the numeral in parentheses. However, this may be a bridal-wedding-planning-tic-thing. Although, I am a pretty laid back bride (just ask my groomzilla), and the vendors and their staff seem a little, too, discombobulated for my own comfort. During consultations and subsequent meetings, I interact with different people (than I originally did), and while they all take handwritten notes, these notes don’t seem to make it to some master notebook as I often repeat myself and/or correct them.

    I am not expecting my wedding day to be perfect – I find that a ridiculous expectation – but I want to make sure I did everything on my end to be as clear and concise as possible.

  31. Kevin Cottingim says:

    I am in the process of reviewing my company’s Employee Handbook. I am happy to report that I am deleting all double numericalization in it! I’m also trying to make it an easier read. 5. “Should PTO be needed on an urgent basis…” becomes “If you have an unexpected need to take PTO…”, etc.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Kevin,

      I’m pleased that you are making your employee handbook better. Clear writing and clear communication are the big objective!

      Thank you for your comment on my blog.

      Brian P. Lawler

  32. Peter says:

    Great post Brian!

    I have a theory about the origin of this practice. It appears to widespread in engineering specifications and legal documents. Both of these types of documents consist almost entirely of boilerplate, where quantities are one of the few things that change from case-to-case.

    My theory is that at one time the initial authors of these boilerplate templates used the construction “one (1) unit(s)” as a way to indicate that the user should replace that phrase with the actual quantity. Since the quantity may end up being 11 or more, it is indeterminate which number format should be used in the final document.

    However, boilerplate users don’t realize this or are in too much of a hurry to execute after copy-pasting. I admit that I sometimes even leave in the (s) of unit(s). So it is misinterpreted as meaning both number and numeral should be typed. This mistake is so common that it has become the rule.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Peter,

      I like your suggestion as to the roots of the word (number) boilerplate process. I have on occasion seen it reach a level of ridiculousness. At the university where I teach I encountered one document that did it backward! number (word).

      Because I was in an unpleasant relationship with the document’s creator I didn’t make any comments, but I really wanted to correct it.

      I stand by my comment that the process is just silly. We should all stop doing it and move on.

      Thank you,

      Brian P. Lawler

  33. drnano says:

    Here is the story I heard on why this got started…

    A retired fellow worked part time at the RadioShack store where I worked while I was in college in the early ‘70s. After a while I noticed that he would put the numeric representation first and then the word equivalents on the list of how many of what needed to be ordered from the warehouse. When I asked about it he told me it was the way he learned to make messages from his father, who was a merchant ship radioman back in the very early days when wireless signals were all in Morse code.

    In those days, the radio signal tended to fade in and out during a message transmission. When a fade happened during a letter of a word (with several DAHs and DITs per letter), one could usually figure out the garbled letter or letters from the context of the word or sentence. But when a fade happened during the transmission of numbers, the operator could never be sure of copying the intended digit correctly, or if some digits of a larger number were missing. So, to be sure, they always sent the word equivalent after the numbers.

    He said that later with radio teletype, characters occasionally got garbled due to radio interference, too. And even with landline telegraphs, distracted operators could copy numbers incorrectly.

    He was absolutely certain, however, that the fact that writing out the number in words tended to run up the bill for the message, which was calculated on the number of characters sent, had nothing at all to do with the practice.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      That’s an interesting story, and perhaps it’s the root of this evil. But I suggest that with modern communication that does not suffer from fading in and out that it’s time to stop doing it.


  34. Jack Oden says:

    I was in the Army for 20 years, retiring in the mid 90’s. In the Army I learned that, when writing communications for the Army’s teletype service, it was required to put single numbers in both words and parentheses for clarity purposes. That is, if the message had to be read, which used to happen often in the “old” days, the reader would read the word, then say “I repeat” and say the number. In effect, it was useless in the automated system, but it needed to be there, just in case. The reverse was true of persons transcribing the spoken message. Thus if someone said “three”, then said “four” the listener could ask for clarification. That would be really important if you wanted to know how many tanks the enemy has in their attacking force.

    • Scott Perry says:

      I agree with the clarity purpose. This way there are not excuses especially when it comes to instructions. I’m surprised with the clarity the legal world has to do that it is not required in legal writing.

      Case in point…I am writing some instructions for a product. I am putting the number three (3) in parenthesis to make absolutely sure the consumer can’t tell me that they did not see it. To me it makes sense in this world of entitled people that seem to blame everyone but themselves for that happens to them. You all as lawyers should surely understand this.

      The point…there are a lot of people in the world today that are stupid or the writer needs to make sure they understand what they are reading. It is not that you are stupid it is called CYA (covering your ass).

      • Brian Lawler says:

        Hi Scott,

        You have fallen prey to the “readers are stupid, so let’s repeat all the numbers” argument, for which there is no evidence of value.

        The point of my blog, and the ongoing comments, is that this practice is silly. We don’t need to assume that people are stupid and that we must repeat the numbers lest they misunderstand them.

        Why do we not repeat all the words, if people are so stupid?

        It just doesn’t make sense to me.

        Thank you for your comment. It will continue to provide a contrasting point of view.

        Best wishes,

        Brian P. Lawler

  35. Dan Z says:

    Legitimate uses of repeating numerals by parenthesizing the spelled-out number probably constitute 1% of the cases. The other 99% are people trying to appear smarter than they are by repeating a practice they saw elsewhere.

  36. Tim M says:

    Very late to this party, but it’s a great topic. I am an attorney, and I never, ever, spell the numbers out and then put the numbers in parentheses. I think the argument about needing the dual usage because of the possibility of making typos is asinine. The only reason you need a convention for whether the numbers spelled out or in Arabic numerals should control is because the use of both makes it possible that there will be an inconsistency. If you use the numbers in only one way, you won’t have an inconsistency, and you have no need for the rule of interpretation. Are you more likely to make a mistake writing the numbers our in words, or just putting them in Arabic numerals? Who knows? But, particularly for very large numbers, it’s a heck of a lot easier to read the Arabic numerals than the words, and I’d guess that you’re more likely to be accurate with the Arabic numerals.

    As for why I’m adamant about not using the silly dual format, that goes back to the very first assignment I did at the law firm where I began my career. I was asked to prepare a document that used numbers, and dutifully used the dual format (e.g., “Four hundred dollars ($400)). I sent my draft document to the partner who had assigned the work to me, and a few days later he asked me to come to his office to go over the document. He complimented me on the work, but asked why I had written the numbers out in letters and then in numerals. I replied that I had seen that done in other models, and assumed that that’s how we were supposed to put numbers in legal documents. He then proceeded to tell me how this practice had originated. According to this (many years deceased) partner, the practice originated in England in the Middle Ages, when lawyers, along with maybe clergy, were the only people who could read and write. People would come to them with agreements they needed, and the lawyers (no doubt standing at scrivener’s desks and using a feather and a pot of ink) would dutifully write the numbers out in words, followed by numerals in parentheses.

    Why did they do this? Apparently because they were paid by the word, and following this silly convention would yield a larger fee. Supposedly this is also the reason why, in a deed to real property, you never see the seller simply “sell” the property to the buyer. Instead, they will do something like “grant, bargain, warrant, convey, alienate, release, assign, set over and confirm” the property to the buyer. You can find similar lists of synonyms in wills, where you never simply “leave” your property to your heirs, but instead do something like “give, devise and bequeath” the property. Do these extra words actually have some critical meaning? Would there be a fatal flaw in a will or a deed if one of the magic synonyms — many of which haven’t been used in common parlance for centuries, if ever — were omitted? Unlikely, but real estate and trusts & estate lawyers are extremely conservative, and are generally reluctant to part with any of their precious synonyms. So they perpetuate the system that yielded a few extra shillings to the lawyers who came up with this language in the Middle Ages, even though (sadly), the lawyers who perpetuate this practice are no longer paid by the word and will earn no extra fee for their efforts in preserving this tradition.

    I have absolutely no idea whether this story is, in fact, true, but once I heard it, I vowed that I, at least, would not continue to perpetuate this practice.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Tim,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my post. I appreciate the words of a member of the bar on this topic. Too often we resort to saying that things are done because the lawyers require it.

      But that just isn’t rue, is it?

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  37. Moshe Mayefsky says:

    Brian, you completely nailed it. I always thought it was useless, but managed to brush it off as legal jargon. However, after just encountering this silly (silly) practice one too many times in a recent email, I was annoyed to the point that I just had to know why this silly (silly) practice exists. This site was the first that came up, and now I feel much better!

    Thanks so much for putting this out there.


    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Moshe,

      Perhaps you and I can start a movement to stop people from repeating numbers in this way.

      Thank you for commenting on my blog.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  38. Marc McWilliams says:

    How about writing a cheque? We always spell out the number, and then represent the number with digits. Redundancy is safety in many regards.
    Perhaps this etiquette developed because most personal cheques were hand written, but the reality is that having both representations of the amount of the cheque is a protection for the writer of the cheque, and an aid to the those processing the document.
    My dad was a pilot, and he always spelt out the number and then put the digit in parentheses, for clarity, when putting orders into writing.
    I don’t think it is uncharitable or unrealistic to assume that the reader could either accidentally or intentionally misinterpret the figure presented in a written publication.
    I know that personal cheques are not used much anymore, but I had to add my two cents ($.02).

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Marc,

      I agree that when we write checks we put the number into words also. The one they use when the two don’t agree is the written version.

      That’s not at all a problem. What I object to is the duplication and parentheses in running prose. It’s unnecessary and dumb.

      Best wishes, and thank you for your two cents’ worth.

      Brian P. Lawler

  39. Sherry Garelick says:

    I’ve checked Chicago Manual of Styles and API no reference to do the spelling and number on an inventory list!!!! which I am being told is the proper usage. What say you?

    • Brian Lawler says:


      I don’t have my Chicago manual here, but my memory is that they recommend putting numbers from zero to ten as words, and numerals after that.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  40. Paul Halupka says:

    I love that I’m not alone in this. And I hate to add to the comment fodder, but the reason I googled and found your blog is because of this webpage for a buddhist author (whom I respect and do not hold accountable for the three (3) listings of parenthetical numbers. But upon returning to the page, I saw in the guest list a (no shit) “Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls” and had to let you know this actually happened.


  41. Kevin Lyons says:

    I did not read all the comments so this may have been mentioned. I agree with Mr. Curmudgeon regarding informal emails. I also agree with the various professional responses (architect, legal professional, and medical professionals who responded)–bth *paradigms* are acceptable.
    I noticed every example people gave involved small numbers. It becomes more logical when one has large numbers. For example, “I sold my house for one hundred twenty-three thousand dollars ($123000)”, or “The square footage is more than twelve hundred (1200)!”. So my rule is, when your numbers are *comprised of* many digits, consider repeating the number in brackets! 🙂

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment on my blog.

      OK. I think you have a point, but why not just use the numerals in such cases instead of the long-winded words?

      It might work as well.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  42. Natalia says:

    I have heard the reason for this annoying habit is because back when legal agreements were hand-written, the spelled-out number followed by the digit(s) in parentheses would ensure all parties understood what the correct number was. I.e., if the writer had bad hand writing, the digits were good measure that everyone would have the same interpretation.

    Makes complete sense in that context, but (fortunately) we don’t hand-write legal agreements anymore 🙂

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Natalia,

      I asked my scribe to pen a response to your comment, and he said, “Just use your computer!”

      I think there is merit in what you say here: it’s very likely that hand-written numbers could be understood better when duplicated, but it’s time to move on!

      Thank you for your comment on my blog.

      Brian P. Lawler

  43. Robert says:

    awesome article cheers for posting. – Rob

  44. Janet says:

    OMG.. I really really want to send this to my boss but fear he would not be amused… Here is what I get …we assume three (3) meetings will be attended by one (1) project manager, at four (4) hours per meeting (including preparation time, travel, and meeting notes) and one (1) – two (2) hour (including travel) site visit by a project manager.
    HELP! 😀

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Welcome to the world of sanity! I received three (3) notes on this post just this week! I wish that people would just stop doing this.

      Thank you for sending your comment.


  45. Jessman says:

    Just a thought that didn’t come up. In places like airports there are people that don’t know the language well but use the same Arabic numeral system.

    So a sign that says, “You are allowed three (3) pieces of luggage.”, knowing just the word luggage (or having a picture on the sign) and seeing the (3) is enough to piece it together. But said person would have much more difficulty understanding a sign that merely said “You are allowed three pieces of luggage.”

    Now you could argue that we should use numerals everywhere. You may be right, but by your own testimony you prefer to follow the Chicago Manual of Style, so “three” is more appropriate.

    Even still, you might argue, only put the 3 up next to the picture of the luggage. This would work too. But someone had to decide a format that would best communicate to everyone, and this might be what they chose. We can’t make every sign a fun little rebus, otherwise misinterpretation would be prevalent.

    In closing, however, I believe this to be a rather rare case where it is useful. Most other cases I completely agree with you. I just wanted to add language-barrier to everyone’s thought process.

    Thanks for the great blog!

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Wessman,

      In this case I would argue that NOT following the Chicago style would be a good idea. Just use the numbers, and ditch the parentheses. Why confuse our non-English-speaking readers with parenthetical numerals?

      Limit: 3 suitcases

      End of story.

      Thank you very much for your comment on my blog.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler

  46. Len says:

    I’m a lawyer. I was taught that the practice of parenthetical numerals arose from a time when lawyer’s clients weren’t necessarily literate, and so the numerals served as an aid to show some essential information in a contract (such as dollar amounts) for the benefit of those illiterate persons. I don’t know if that explanation is true, but it is a bit of legal history/lore that was passed down to me.

    In my legal work I avoid the practice because I find it inserts into a document yet one more opportunity for errors. When business terms are negotiated, I’ll often see a version of a document where a search/replace of all dollars amounts in text was performed but one or more numeric representations were missed — or vice versa.

    Without knowing that I was apparently following the Chicago Manual of Style, that’s essentially my practice. Larger numbers are set forth in Arabic numerals. It’s easier for all readers.

  47. Charles says:

    I’m an almost-retired attorney, and it seems to me that the answer is hidden in all the responses when they are read together. The rule should be …. think about it, and then do what’s needed.

    If your profession (airline, engineer, etc.) needs duplicated words-and-digits, then do that. If common sense says that your writing doesn’t need the duplication, then don’t do it. But above all, remember that writing is for communication. Following ancient rules (or modern ones) without thinking is telling people that they are dealing with someone who doesn’t think about what they are saying.

    I just received a notice of an Annual Notice Of Members of a large lawyers’ insurance company. One of the purposes of the annual meeting is:
    “To elect two (2) member(s) to the Board of Directors each for a five (5) year term. The nominee(s) to be presented by Management for election are: Alan B____ and Gail M_____.”

    So not only did they blindly followed some convention to clarify “two” and “five”, they weren’t even sure that two persons would require the plural “nominees”. Clearly, someone wasn’t thinking.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Charles,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response to my blog post about number is parentheses.

      I agree that this writing is absurd. The irony is that many people who do this think it makes them more sophisticated.


      I got a note from my department chair this week indicating that two (2) students would be requested to participate in an activity, etc.

      What’s the point of this?

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  48. Rob Kirkpatrick says:

    Try writing quotes for supplying of items which have numbers in their name. I include (#) after any quantity of items listed, and no where else.

    I do not use it in any other manner outside explicit quotes and tenders.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Rob,

      This is an interesting twist on the numbers in parents issue. How about making the quantity bold, or in a different color?

      I understand your reason for doing this, but I still don’t like numbers in parentheses (especially when they are duplicates).

      Or, how about putting the serial or part numbers in parens, instead of the quantity?

      Thank you for commenting on my blog post.

      Brian P. Lawler

  49. Chone says:

    I think spelling the word decreases the chances of a typo, but writing the number in parentheses makes it easier for the reader to go back and reference the numbers being discussed. Definitely redundant, but I don’t think it makes reading any more difficult.

  50. N. Jones says:

    Another attorney here. I’ve always thought the need to spell out numbers came from the days of the typewriter and the carbon copy.

    If you remember, the 1st carbon copy was pretty clear and a numeral was unmistakeable. But do you remember the 2nd, or even 3rd carbon copy? In the days before copies, that saved typing time, but by then a single numeral could be illegible. Hence, numbers truly needed to be spelled out to be unmistakeable in all copies of the document.

    One thing’s for sure, brand new attorneys will copy this decades old habit without question even though most have never actually seen a typewriter or a carbon copy.
    Gives me a chance to tease a few.

  51. Eric says:

    I believe this convention was used to prevent fraudulent modification of legal documents. For example, a fraudster would have to change both a word and a number, as opposed to just one of the word and the number.

    To my knowledge, attorneys are not obligated to use this style anymore since computers have rendered the alteration concerns moot. As an attorney myself, I get annoyed when I see a partner send out an e-mail with number (#) (which happened the other day).

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Eric,

      I think that’s the best explanation for this I have ever read or heard. It makes sense, and it was probably a smart idea. Why does my department chair say things in his memos like, “We’ll be meeting with two (2) members of the committee tomorrow.”

      Since I don’t plan to defraud anyone by changing his memos, it would be nice if he simply stopped doing this.

      Brian P. Lawler

  52. Joe (Joe) says:

    I think it’s stupid and don’t understand it.

    I get the whole redundancy thing. People make mistakes, it came from a time when people hand-wrote everything, etc. Why have 1 bridge across a river if you can have 2? But you have to draw the line somewhere. Don’t succumb to RAS syndrome (redundant acronym syndrome syndrome). Let me go to the ATM machine and give you my PIN number.

    If redundancy in numbers is important, can’t redundancy be important in other things? I can rephrase (spell out) this sentence (the thing you’re reading) in seventy-five (75) different ways, and it’s really important (crucial) that neither me nor you (the writer nor the reader) misunderstand anything.

    Writers make mistakes when they write. Readers make mistakes when they read. If something is *that* important, double check it. Writers: proofread things, and get your friend to as well. Readers: don’t assume writers are perfect.

    • Joe (Joe) says:

      And regarding Kristy’s above comment of writing out “One (1) g – Chemical X” because the 1 is important … isn’t the g also important? What if I put a k in front of that accidentally? If you’re taking the liberty to make the number redundant, I could certainly make a case that the units are even *more* important (as they deal with orders of magnitude, not just a digit or 2). Similarly shouldn’t you make X redundant, as Chemical O is very different from Chemical P (even though they’re right next to each other on the keyboard)?

  53. Peter says:

    A strong sign of the bogosity of the practice would be if it is rare or absent outside the Anglosphere.

    Anyone who reads a lot of legal/contract/construction documents drafted (by native speakers) in other languages?

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Peter,

      I don’t spend time reading in other languages, nor am I a good enough reader in the languages I have studied, to notice this phenomenon. I suspect that there are annoying characteristics in other languages also.

      Best wishes,
      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  54. Great article and comments. I am a Registered Nurse and need to be accurate when giving out medication and doses, read from a prescription. It would be unfeasible to imagine a prescriber writing “nine milligrammes” as well as 9mg for each drug. The prescription charts would be huge – and don’t get me started on prescriber handwriting..

    Whilst I agree with writing out numbers once (below ten) in running prose I fail to see the ‘increased accuracy’ of writing a number and then adding its parenthetical digital equivalent. I too find it distracting and superfluous.

    You want accuracy? You do what we do – check the numbers several times!

  55. David says:

    My understanding was that in banking, as you mentioned, the written out version is the “real” number. I figured this extended to contracts. The practice arose because we are not used to seeing very large numbers written out, so if negotiating a price, something like ‘we will provide one million, three hundred eighty-three thousand, nine hundred and seventeen dollars per year for three years” would be relatively inscrutable, so the practice of adding the numerals was a convenience for readability ($1,383,917). It would not be needed for one-digit numbers like “three” in that sentence because that does not present the same parsing issue.

    In my copyediting, I always nix the follow-on numerals unless it adheres to the readability requirement outlined above, and absolutely always, even in legal text, for the ones that are typically written out anywhere (1-9, or 12, depending on style). (Although N. Jones’ argument about carbon copies is persuasive for allowing those to stand if that’s a factor.)

  56. analdin says:

    That s why you sometimes see a numeral in parentheses after a number that is written out it is a relic of legal writing, but it s not something you need to include in your writing today.

  57. Another lawyer here. I have not read through all the comments, but here is the answer. Back in the days before typewriters, everything was handwritten. When a contract had a number written in words in one place and in numerals in another place, sometimes the numbers differed. Often this was because a handwritten 7 can look like a 9, etc., so the handwritten numerals were not always clearly legible.

    Sometimes, when there was a lot of money at stake, these handwritten contracts ended up in court with a dispute over which version of the number was correct. Courts rules that the “word” numbers controlled over the numeral numbers because you don’t accidentally write “nine” when you mean “seven.” Lawyers adopted the practice of writing all numbers in words because of that, but they put the numerals in parenthesis because with large numbers, like multi-million dollar contracts, the written words are hard to read.

    There is no actual requirement that numbers be written that way, however.

    Today, with a Word document, a 7 never looks like a 9. So, there is no longer any reason to continue the practice. I always just write the numerals in documents I do, and double check them, but about 95% of lawyers continue the ancient practice because “that’s the way it is done,” without ever stopping to ask why.

  58. Stuart says:

    Firstly, thank you Brian for your illuminating and amusing blog post.

    Most supporters of the practice of writing a numeral after the word claim it is done to avoid potentially catastrophic errors. Why do they assume that catastrophic errors can only occur if a quantity in a document is wrong? Surely equally catastrophic errors can occur if a word is misspelled or used incorrectly. Therefore, on this view, we should repeat every important word in parentheses just in case we misspelled it the first time.

    For example, an aircraft maintenance document may direct a technician to “inspect the fuselage”. Is that “l” intended, or should there be a space, in which case it is actually referring to the “fuse age”? Who would know?

    This could have catastrophic consequences if an electrical fuse needs checking rather than the fuselage. The parentheses adherents should be insisting that we write the word again, just in case we make an error the first time. So our aircraft maintenance document would read:

    “Check the fuse age (fuse age) every month. Replace if older than one (1) year. Check the fuselage (fuselage) annually. Replace if older than twenty (20) years.”

    This is clearly absurd. If we can get numbers wrong, we can get words wrong too. Either repeat every important word in parentheses (just in case it was wrong the first time!) or abandon this ridiculous practice.

  59. John M Cox says:

    In technical writing, specifications for construction, drawings, and construction documents it is common. The reason is that each contractor comes automatically equipped with a lawyer on retainer. The number in parenthesis is to clarify what the style manual tells us to do when writing one (1) through ten (10). Lawyers have many clever ways of arguing whatever they want. So when there is alot of money on the line for a single word, as it is in construction, generally in contracts it is done this way.

  60. Emily says:

    I wonder if this stems from when phone numbers used to use their numbers as words. Such as 555-HELP (4357). While catchy, using letters instead of numbers actually made it harder for people to key in the correct numbers so it fell (mostly) out of favor.

    Additionally, people who are blind and use text-to-speech technology would hear the number twice (eight eight) and think the number is 88. So there are very practical reasons not to duplicate the numbers.

  61. Lark LUI says:

    Hi, Forgive my question on other issue. A magistrate just commented that the exhibits in a summons : “one number of pistol, two numbers of canister” was wrong as referred to “one apple, two apples”. Yet, the word “number” in that situation exists for decades. I dunno whether there is any precedent ? Thank you.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Lark,

      This is indeed a strange use of language. I have not encountered this. As a result, I have no opinion on how to respond to your question.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  62. Chris says:

    I don’t know where I picked up on it — probably when I was younger and reading lots of books — but I do it as a precaution as many comments have already pointed out. And it just looks more professional (to me, at least). I’ll continue to do it because it only hurts a few of your egos, but may end up saving my butt one day.

    Also, thanks for making this post! It was a bit weird trying to search this ‘phenomenon’ up on Google and hoping it understood what I meant.

  63. Scott Malin says:

    Hey Brian
    This is my favorite document of all time. Thank you so much for publishing it.

    I am an architect and review reports by both engineers and architects on a weekly basis. Apparently, they were all taught in technical writing class to put the number and the digits in all written documents, but presumably only up to 10 or so. Of course, I think this is ridiculous and I love that you have the credentials to back up my position when I tell them so.

    As to others who say it is critical that they do this ridiculous process or someone will make a mistake, or get hurt, I can only say I will buy their argument if they do it for all numerals, such as saying Twelve Thousand, Two Hundred and Ninety Seven (12,297), like a check. But if they only to it up to Ten (10), but stop doing it at 11, there is no logic to it. Isn’t missing a larger figure much more critical than missing the most simple of numbers from 1 to 10. Just use the number if you don’t like the word, but stop using both just because someone told you to. When 12,297 has a glitch (think a certain Terry Gilliam movie) and comes out as 2297, then we have a problem. There is no substitute for checking your work.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Scott,

      I agree with you entirely, though I do abide by the Chicago Manual of style (a guide for newspaper writers) when it comes to numbers in prose. That manual recommends that numbers from 1 to 10 be spelled-out, and that all numbers greater than 10 be shown as numerals. They don’t have a recommendation for the silly repetition of numbers (in parentheses).

      When it comes to engineering and architecture, the numbers are much more important than they might be in a newspaper article. I would go with all-numerals in engineering situations to keep things simple and not work with a double-standard.

      Thank you so much for your considerate comment.

      Best wishes,
      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  64. JB Bennetti says:

    I disagree with the use of parentheses as ALWAYS offensive. I work in the gardening profession and must frequently order plants. Plants are supplied in 2 gallon, 5 gallon etc sizes. To avoid confusion, I have always written my orders out as: (5) 5 gallon dogwoods, (1) 1 gallon daisy, (15) 15 gallon fruit trees etc.

  65. Marcos "ChaCha" says:

    I can’t believe I am adding to this thread. Will the madness never end?

    I have been a tech writer on and off for 27 years. (I roll AP style, yo.) I’ve written specs for IBM, NVIDIA, AMD, Motorola, and Cisco. I’ve written tech writing software that is used as an industry standard.

    I’ve been a member of many tech writing groups with lots of fun and esoteric debates amongst some of the most pedantic people I know. So much wasted talent. Where have the years gone? (I digress.)

    I thought that sort of life was behind me. Lo, behold my presence. Ugh.

    I arrived at this blog today as I was considering how to describe the number instances of a memory controller on a microchip today. After reading about half of the comments on this blog, I got my answer. Everyone has their needs. Everyone has their tribe.

    There’s just one thing I don’t understand, Brian. One. 1!

    Over the years, you repeatedly ask in this blog, “Do you think [we are] stupid?”

    That’s the one thing I don’t get. Why do you think that the motive behind the redundant numbers is condescension? I mean, where does that come from? Do you think the authors who do that are trying to dumb it down for their readers?

    Of all the arguments expressed in this (yawn) thread, that’s the one argument that’s lost on me. Are you just using an idiom: “Do you think I’m stupid?” Or do you actually think those authors believe their audience is not intelligent enough to know what the word “one” means? Seems like a stretch.

    Thank you for continuing this ridiculous thread for so many years. It gives one hope during a pandemic.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Marcos,

      I have worked with administrative people for decades who think that repeating numbers in parentheses is a “businesslike” way to write a memo or an agreement. I think that it is pervasive because people somehow think it makes documents more “serious” or legally impressive.

      I enjoyed your comment, and I agree with your assertion that this has gone on for too long.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  66. Alexandros says:

    I’m a Greek-American, so “paradigm” is, and always will be, an important word if you intend to be a cultured speaker of English, Greek or other languages. Just my two (2) cents.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Greetings, Alexandros,

      The reason I object to the use of “paradigm” (and the more common “paradigm shift”) is that it falls into the category of Business BS. Whenever I hear someone using that phrase I cringe, because what they are talking about is seldom really very important.

      It’s the same with claims about how a product is a “disruptive technology,” when usually it’s evolutionary or worse. We don’t see many truly disruptive technologies (mobile phones were a truly disruptive technology, as were lasers).

      And, when you hear someone claim a “paradigm shift,” what they are saying is usually that they want to sound smarter than they really are when making a presentation.

      I appreciate your comment, and wish you a very happy paradigm shifting season!

      Best wishes,
      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognositcator

  67. Paula says:

    So I’m yet another latecomer here. I write resumes and have someone that changes numerals to the word and then puts the number in (). Drives me batty.

    “Oversee two (2) employees in unnecessary habits meant to make others crazy”

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Paula,

      We think alike on this! I find it pretentious to do this, and really – WHY? You supervise two (2) people. Is there a chance of error there? Could it be confused with two-enty people, or two-hundred people?

      I hope that you survive the résumé business to have a comfortable retirement where people don’t do this.

      Best wishes,
      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  68. Ellen says:

    Since folks are stilling chiming in on this… A manager where I work (a state agency) wants me to use the redundant form in quick reference guides because that’s how the state rules are written. I sure would like to send the manager this post.

    I sense the difference between those who abhor the redundancy and those who favor it may be the difference between those who are writers and those who put information on paper. Real writers “hear” their prose, as if it was read out loud. And the duplication would sound ridiculous and wrong.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Ellen (Ellen),

      Thank you for your note. I would hope that both people who write and people who read can “hear” the ridiculous repetition of numbers.

      I find it amusing that government officials might feel it’s important to repeat numbers for some imagined “clarification” reason. It makes no sense.

      I hope that your bosses might see the wisdom of not repeating numbers in “quick reference” guides to make them quicker, not more redundant.

      Best wishes in your quest for clarity,

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  69. Kyleen House says:

    In the last few years I’ve started to put numbers in parentheses for reasons I’m not even aware of. I definitely didn’t learn in school this was the correct way to do things. I’m assuming I saw it once or a few times and determined that I like it. Is there anybody out there that relates to my mental health disorder? I think I may have developed the number parentheses syndrome bc in lists like the one below, the parentheses make it look “cleaner”. Or, maybe, when I saw this for the first time, I thought the person who had done it was clearly smarter than me bc I never knew you should put numbers in parentheses.

    I guess I’m wondering if anyone has ever seen this before or if I’ve created this way of doing things and everyone who has seen a list of mine thinks I am uneducated and weird.

    PS – please don’t judge any of my other apparent grammar errors. I struggle enough with my own judgements.

    Baby Girls’ 3-Month Bundle Includes:
    – (3) Long-Sleeve Sleep Gowns
    – (2) Long Sleeve Sleep n’ Plays Bodysuits
    – (1) Set Burt’s Bees Organic Bodysuit

    WHY am I doing this????

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Kyleen,

      You have come to the right place! It’s obvious to me that you do suffer from Parenthesis Syndrome. But your symptoms are minor. The worst cases are where people put the number twice, the second time in parentheses. Your affliction is much simpler, and much easier to cure.

      If, instead of putting the numbers in parentheses, you simply use the numbers – you would be cured immediately!

      And, if you want to follow “Chicago Style” you would spell-out numbers from one to ten, using digits after that. But, in the example you sent, that would not be appropriate (that is for prose).

      How about:

      3 long-sleeve sleep gowns
      2 long-sleeve Sleep-n-Play bodysuits
      1 Burt’s Bees organic bodysuit

      …using capital letters only on proper nouns while you’re at it.

      I envision a swift recovery for your condition.

      Thanks for your comment, and best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  70. Shirley Davis says:

    In my office we use ( ) after a base part number to show viewers that there are additional variations of this same base number. This is used due to a limited size of the entry box for part numbers. 8928 ( ) could be 8928-001, -002 etc.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Shirley,

      I appreciate your comment on my article about putting numbers into parentheses. Your technique is effective. It would also work to put an X after the part number to indicate that variations might exist.

      So, part number 8928-x could be just as effective.

      Best wishes,

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  71. Brian Lawler says:

    This might be the stupidest version of this dumb idea yet!

    I received an invitation today to a party from one of those invitation web sites. At the top it says: “You have earned (1) prize!” with a link to a survey.

    Why on Earth would anyone do this? It underscores the dumb numbers thing and amplifies it. How about saying: “You have earned 1 prize!!!” ?. (The triple exclamation marks are designed to start a new raft of comments about over-exclamation!!!)

    • john M says:

      I agree that “You have earned (1) prize!” or “You have earned 1 prize!!!” just might be the most absurd version of this dumb idea I’ve seen yet, period(.)

      • Brian Lawler says:

        Hi John,

        I was amused by your comment.

        I recently applied for a building permit, and was instructed online to submit one (1) set of plans as PDF files.

        Why would I submit more or fewer than one?

        I agree that the absurdity of this is unequalled.

        Have a lovely day!

        Brian P. Lawler
        The Blognosticator

  72. James W Taylor II says:

    You are missing the forest for the trees.

    There is no requirement in the UCC Section 3 (negotiable instruments, or the law of things like checks) that requires ordinal and written out numbers. Yet checks do this too. Why? It’s not done for clarity or because you’re an idiot. It is done because it calls more attention to someone trying to change key numbers on the contract and/or check after proofreading but before signing. In other words, it is fraud prevention.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi James,

      That makes perfect sense, and it is valid on financial instruments. I think the rule banks follow is to take the written line as the official value in case there is a difference.

      But putting numbers in parentheses in prose and simple instructions does not prevent fraud. If I am asked to submit one set of plans for my building permit, there is no need to say I should submit one (1) set of plans. It’s still just one, and no fraud is even possible. That use of the duplicative is just silly.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  73. Nate says:

    I got a good chuckle reading some of the back n forth. When read in a “vacuum” each one had legitimate merit IMO, and I wouldn’t necessarily say any were completely ludicrous, except maybe just one(1)? bordering on it.
    I would like to add one thing to consider….. I’m confident there would be 99.9%-100% agreement by everyone on one(1) thing(.1% lying jackasses).
    That is everyone knew how to read, write and comprehend words for quite some time before we learned of, and began a practice of using the () as it related to the various environments it made sense in to do so. I appreciate and thank all of you for the smile and especially the insight I gained from reading.
    Never could have imagined I would learn of such a thing, until I actually had an opportunity to do so here.

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Hi Nate,

      We in the one (1) community appreciate your comment.

      My next rant is going to be about the phrase “And without further ado…”

      I think Shakespeare said it well: “Much ado about nothing…” The phrase adds nothing to an introduction, and nothing to benefit the speaker. It’s just words, needlessly spoke.

      Please join me in welcoming our next topic!

      Brian P. Lawler
      The Blognosticator

  74. Marc says:

    I don’t know…IF the phrase adds _Nothing_ to the introduction, and _nothing_ to benefit the speaker, wouldn’t this be actual “ado, about nothing”?

    • Brian Lawler says:

      Dear Marc,

      Since so much ado is done in the name of doing nothing, you reinforce my attempt to get people to stop doing nothing, and get on with the presentation. A brilliant response!


      William Shakespeare
      AKA The Blognosticator
      AKA Brian P. Lawler

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