1 Numbers

2 Abbreviations

3 Capital Letters

1. Numbers


1.1 Numbers

Here are three basic rules for using numbers in writing, which are quite helpful.

Rule 1. Spell out numbers that take no more than two words. Otherwise, use the Arabic numberals.
  • E.g. a) The chef has a file of 365 recipes.

b) Only seven students came to class today.

c) Thirty-five is an odd number.

Rule 2. Numbers are often used to show dates, times, percentages, addresses and so on.
  • E.g. a) I went to bed at 11 p.m. last night so I felt extremely sleepy this morning.

b) Xiamen University was founded in 1921 by Tan Kah Kee, a well-known overseas Chinese and also a patriotic leader.

c) The flight from Boston is due at 15:30.

Rule 3. When you are using several nunbers at the same time, they have to be consistent with each other.

  • E.g. In the farmland, there are 123 sheep, 10 hounds and 2 kittens possessed by the owner.

2 Abbreviations


In formal writing, we had better avoid using most abbreviations. However, those listed below are a few abbreviations that are generally accepted in compositions.

Pay attention to the period which is used after most abbreviations.

2.1. Initials in one's name.

  • J.K.Rowling George W.Bush John F.Kennedy

2.2. Time references.

  • A.M. or a.m. B.C., A.D. P.M. or p.m.

2.3. Mr.,Ms.,Mrs.,Dr.,Jr.,Sr. when used with names.

  • Dr. Adams Ms.Lee Newton, Jr.

2.4. Famous initials of organizations, technical words, and company names


3 Capital Letters


We are likely to ignore the details when writing, for example, the capital letters. There are 6 basic uses, just to name a few.

3.1 First word in a complete sentence or a direct quotation

e.g. The girl said to the new comer, "If you need help, call me."

3.2 The word I and other people's names

e.g. I love Leo.

3.3 Names of days of the week, moths, holidays and festivals

e.g. In March, the second Saturday is Tree Planting Day!

3.4 Names of particular places

e.g. I'm graduated from Wuhan Foreign Language School.

3.5 Titles of books, newspapers, magazines, films, TV shows, songs etc.

e.g. Natalie Portman has won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Darren Aronofsky's psychosexual thriller BLACK SWAN.

3.6 Names of unions, organizations, companies, religious and political groups etc.

e.g. The European Union is a unique economic and political partnership between 27 European countries.

Other Uses of Capital Letters:

3.7 Titles of persons when used with their names

e.g. President Obama's years of public service are based around his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose.

3.8 Specific school courses

e.g. PE, Introductory Psychology etc.

3.9 Languages

e.g. Our professor can speak English, French and Spanish fluently.

3.10 Race, Nations, and Nationalities

e.g. Barack H.Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

3.11 Opening and clsoing of a letter

e.g. Dear Mr. Black: ; Sincerely yours, etc.

3.12 Historical periods and events

e.g. The Black Death serves as a convenient divider between the central and the late Middle Ages.


Several example sentences are quoted from original websites written by English native speakers in order to show how to apply these mechanics to essays in the right way.


1 http://ice.xmu.edu.cn/english/showinfo.aspx?info_id=13
2 http://europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/index_en.htm
3 http://www.foxsearchlight.com/blackswan/
4 http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama
5 http://www.boisestate.edu/courses/westciv/plague/01.shtml

External Links:

1 http://essayinfo.com/sguides/numbers.php
2 http://essayinfo.com/sguides/abbreviations.php