Bloody Well Write

August 4, 2009

My 2 cents

Filed under: AP Stylebook,grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 1:45 pm
Tags: , , ,

When it comes to money, everyone has an opinion about how to manage it. Let me just add one thought: Let’s leave the fate of dollars and cents — in the written form, anyway — to the folks at the AP Stylebook headquarters.

Feed the pig

Feed the pig

When you don’t have a ton (or even a pound) of cash and you are writing about this lack of funds, spell out the word cents and use numerals for any amount less than a dollar:

• What can I buy for 8 cents?
• He gave me 74 cents back in change.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to rub coins against paper money, use the dollar sign and decimals for any amount equal to or larger than a dollar:

• Bob owes me exactly $1.
• I owe Sue a penny more: $1.01.
• Sue bought me a slurpie that cost $2.35.

As much as I’d like to use that cute cent sign (¢), AP doesn’t approve, so I acquiesce.

Happy trails!




  1. As an engineer, I’d prefer deleting the adverb and simply write $1.00. That is a more concise way to write exactly. Let’s get back to proper use of significant figures. Who’s with me?

    One other thing – I was taught that for numbers less than 20 they were supposed to be written out – eight, not 8. Am I dating myself?

    Comment by steakchorizo — August 5, 2009 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  2. You’re right. It doesn’t make sense to use ¢. Hey, where the heck is that thing on my keyboard anyway? lol.

    Comment by ileaneb — August 5, 2009 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  3. It is more concise to write “$1.00” but not as fun. (Writers love words, yes? Yes.) The main reason I wrote “exactly” (perhaps the only reason) was to emphasize the exactness of the amount. I suppose I could’ve used a different amount (perhaps $4.37), in which case I wouldn’t have had to write “exactly” at all. But since $1 or $1.00 could be construed as “a buck,” which is rather nonspecific, I threw in “exactly” to solidify the particular amount in the reader’s head.

    Concerning numbers — AP says to spell one through nine out and use numerals for anything above, with exceptions: Ages and measurements are always numerals (The 3-year-old was 38 inches tall) and, as the entry states, use numerals for any monetary amount less than a dollar (my 2 cents).

    Comment by bloodywellwrite — August 5, 2009 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

  4. Oddly, “The Elements of Style” seems to indicate that numbers should always be written as numbers unless they’re in a quotation, in which case they’re to be written as words.

    Imagine that — three comments and three differing answers. 😉

    Comment by Jon Westcot — August 7, 2009 @ 3:40 am | Reply

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