Language & Grammar


In general, spell out whole numbers from one through nine and use numerals (figures) for numbers 10 and above. Exceptions: game scores, course credits, GPAs, school grades, room numbers, book chapters, building numbers.

Spell out fractions standing alone and use symbols for fractions with whole numbers.


The rabbit ate three pounds of lettuce and 25 carrots.
He spent one-tenth of his income on clothes.
That is 2 ½ times more than last year.
Three-quarters of the money went to buy shoes.

Avoid starting a sentence with a number, but if you must, don’t use a numeral.


Eighteen out of 30 students received scholarships.
Nineteen sixty-five marked SFU’s first term.
SFU began its first term in 1965.

You might have to rewrite some sentences: “Fans bought 300,000 albums in the first week” instead of “300,000 albums were sold in the first week.”

Dates and time

Write out months and days of the week in full. For months used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.


  • The ceremony is on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2014.
  • She is graduating in June 2014.

For time, use periods between “a.m.” and “p.m.” When referring to the time at the top of the clock, do not include the zeroes.


7 a.m., 7:30 p.m., midnight, noon.


CP Style does not specify use of metric or imperial measurements. For SFU publications, measurements may be given in either or both. Check the CP Style Guide for correct abbreviations.

Per cent

Spell out the word "per cent". Do not use the symbol % except in tables, graphics and charts.


  • Fewer than five per cent of the students attended the lecture.
  • Student participation increased by 20 per cent.

Telephone numbers

Preferred: 604-555-1212
Acceptable: (604) 555-1212, 604.555.1212
Unacceptable: 604/555/1212, 604/555-1212