Get the Numbers Right
by Helen, published 05/23/2013
10 Check PointsNever overlook the numbers in your communications. Proof them with extra care. Here are some other guidelines.
- Add them up. If you’re writing revenue numbers from three regions along with the total, do the math to be sure the numbers compute. When putting a number before a list of items, check that the number matches the total. For example, the subhead in this article is “10 check points.” Count the bullet points to ensure they total 10. During the review/editing process, the number of items in a list can change, so review the final version carefully.
- Copy and paste numbers to avoid errors and retyping when possible. If you have to enter the numbers yourself, double-check them against the source material.
- Check consistency. Be sure numbers cited more than once within your communication are exactly the same.
- Confirm dates. Be sure you’ve got the dates right, otherwise it creates confusion and a possibly a string of unnecessary follow-up emails.
- Double-check phone numbers. If it’s a conference call, ensure the call-in codes are correct. If you get it wrong, especially on large conference calls, it can create havoc and waste time.
- Put the currency symbol before values, as in $2 million or €2 million. If you’re not using a symbol, spell the name of the currency after the amounts: 2 million dollars or 2 million euros.
- Put the denomination after numbers. Is it thousands, millions, billions? It’s surprising how often the eye will gloss over a number without a denomination when proofreading. Also be sure the denomination is correct: big difference between a million and a billion.
- Check that decimals are in the right place. Also be consistent with the number of digits following a decimal. If you’re using one digit, be sure all related numbers in the communication have one digit after the decimal point.
- Double-check rounding. If you need to round numbers up or down, be sure you got it right.
- Check page numbers. If your document is paginated and you refer to something on another page, confirm that the page number is correct.