Technical Writing Tip – Five Quick Tips for Writing Number Ranges

June 13, 2023 Breanne MacDonald

Number ranges may come up often in technical documents, but what’s the best way to express them? Here are five quick tips: 

  1. You can use “to” or “from… to…” to express numbers in a range. This implies the range is up to and including the second number. 

one to ten 
from 2001 to 2022 
50 to 100  

  • You can also list a range as being “between” two numbers (between 1 and 10).  

2. When using numerals, you can use an en dash (–) to replace the “to” in number ranges (e.g., 1–10). However, if your sentence includes “from”, be sure to spell out “to” as well. 

1–10 OR from 1 to 10 
but NOT from 1–10 

  • In more informal contexts, a hyphen might do (1-10), but most style guides will recommend using an en dash. Also avoid dashes if spelling out numbers instead of using numerals (from one to ten, not from one–ten). 

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3. If you’re expressing your range as “between” two numbers, use “and” to separate them (between 1 and 10). Also note that an en dash should NOT be used with “between” as it is a placeholder for the word “to” or “through”. 

4. Be sure to establish a method for treating number ranges if you decide to abbreviate or condense them. For example, you can repeat each number in full (101-125), but you can also abbreviate the second number to use only the changed part (101-25). Check if you have an established system for this (or follow your favorite style guide); if not, choose a method and apply it consistently (though keep in mind you may need different rules for different types of numbers). 

5. In a number range, you should repeat symbols/units if they are closed up with your number (i.e., have no space between the number and the symbol), but you don’t have to repeat them if they are open. 

50% to 60%, 50%–60% 
6 to 10 cm, 6–10 cm 

I hope you found these tips helpful! Keep in mind that if you are writing to specific technical standards, you may have your own rules to apply. Be sure to refer to your preferred style guide or other procedure documents to know what guidelines you should be following. 

About the Author

Breanne MacDonald

Technical Editor<br><br>Fueled by her meticulous nature, an eye for detail, and a love of books, Breanne has been an editor for over 10 years. She has been a technical editor with ASCENT since 2019, and outside the office she is an avid volunteer with the Editors’ Association of Canada. Breanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University and a certificate in publishing from Ryerson University.

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