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Formatting question: Numerals

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I'm writing a math-focused fictional PB (aiming for that open call posted somewhere on here).

In the story, the kids are shouting out numbers of things and grouping them into piles of ten. In my imagination, for a few pages of this the kids' lines wouldn't necessarily be in the main text - like, say, there's a pile of dinosaurs in one corner of the page with the line "Here are  5 dinosaurs..." next to it and then a pile of army men in another corner with the line "plus 5 army men makes 10!" or something along those lines, probably with the numbers big and colorful and definitely numerals.

But when I'm writing the lines in the ms, should I include them as words or numerals? Especially since I'm obviously not going to make the art notes nearly as detailed as above, and an illustrator might have a totally different idea for how to do it. So whether they're words or numerals in the final book would pretty much be up to the artist/editor.

I'm just worried that writing them as numerals in the text would look silly or unprofessional, since if this were typical prose they're small numbers that would definitely be written out.
#1 - July 27, 2018, 10:13 AM

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If it's an equation or you want to show numbers different ways (five / 5 or ten / 10), I'd write it out like this in the text, with speech attribution, like in a script, to show that it's not in the regular text, but might have a speech balloon (you could always have a general text/art note stating that at the beginning):

Army Men: + 5 army men = 10!

If that's not what you're trying to do, then write it out: "Plus five army men makes ten!"

Sounds like a fun book. Good luck!
#2 - July 27, 2018, 03:58 PM
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Most publishers do have a "house style" that spells out how to do numbers, among many other things. Typically, the default is to spell out numbers up to a certain cut off, such as 10 or 100, but here's the thing--if you want to handle numbers a certain way, such as have ALL of them as numerals, that's fine. The key thing is to settle on your rule and then be consistent.
#3 - July 27, 2018, 05:32 PM
Harold Underdown

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I definitely agree with Harold's advice to be consistent.

From a math educator's perspective, I think that if the kids are going to be doing math operations with the numbers, they should be listed as numerals, not as words. Word problems are tough enough for some kids without hiding the relevant information (i.e., the numbers) as words in among other words. Let the numbers stand out as numerals so the kids can focus on them.

But that's just my bias showing. I've had this discussion with editors regarding some of my math puzzle books that have sentences containing numbers. Not all of them agree. (But I've usually been able to convince them.  :whistle )
#4 - July 27, 2018, 06:24 PM
« Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 06:53 PM by Ev »

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Thanks for all of your input!

What I've settled on for now is including this general art note at the top:

In sections that are underlined, the text should be integrated with the illustrations to emphasize the relationship between the numbers and the pictures. Any dialogue tags included may be optional or moved around as needed so that they work with the illustrations.

And then in those underlined sections I'm using numerals, but writing out the numbers in the rest of the "regular text". Does that seem like a reasonable compromise? I know that writing out the numbers is standard, but I agree with Ev that numerals are helpful when you don't want to put extra hurdles between the kids and the math.

Now I just need to figure out if this thing has enough of a plot to qualify as a story.  :whistle
#5 - July 30, 2018, 11:50 AM

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As long as you're consistent, anything can work. I'm not sure you need the following part, "Any dialogue tags included may be optional or moved around as needed so that they work with the illustrations" because this is what they'll do anyway. Good luck with the story aspect.
#6 - July 30, 2018, 08:06 PM
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I'd been unsure about that part, so I will cut it. Thanks Debbie!
#7 - July 31, 2018, 07:09 AM

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