Red flags started waving in my mind last week as I read a Time article about the CEO of The Cellular Connection, Scott Moorehead. This paragraph demonstrates one of my pet peeves regarding how to write numbers:
“In 2008, at age 30, Moorehead took over the company reins from his father. Since then revenue has grown 239%, from $137 to $466 mil.”
Logically, there had to be a problem with the math or the words. I doubt Moorehead’s parents handed over a company with revenues of only $137, and if he had increased that by 239%, the total revenues for the company’s 800 locations today would be only about $327.
An increase from $137 to $466 million would be an increase of more than 340 million percent.
I’m willing to be flexible about style choices in how to write numbers. I don’t care whether you spell out all numbers less than 100 or only those that are less than 10. While I’m not thrilled with the abbreviation of “million” in the paragraph above, I can live with that. I can even be flexible about how to apply style rules. (Our style is to use the percent sign, but 340 million % would be awful.)
I am a nitpicker, however, when it comes to dropping “million” or “billion” in the first number of a range. That changes the number.
Do you have a pet peeve about how to write numbers?
[Image Source: Luis Argerich]