1. NUMBERS: Spell out only whole numbers from one to ninety-nine (and their multiples).
Spell out three thousand; do not spell out 235
Spell out forty-two hundred; do not spell out 8,642
There are 2 exceptions: i) opening a sentence, and ii) expressing percentages
2. FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD: It is not firstly, secondly, and thirdly
Wrong – Secondly, the plaintiff failed to secure a surety bond.
Correct – Second, the plaintiff failed to secure a surety bond.
3. LAY/LIE: The confusion: “lay” is the present tense of “to lay” and it is the past tense of “to lie”
to lay – requires an object – past tense is laid
to lie – never has an object – past tense is lay
I lay down and laid my head on the pillow.
4. BETWEEN/AMONG: If there are no more than two, between should be used; if more than two, among should be used.
One pivotal case was between oil companies Conoco and BP and representatives of the food industry.
The court split the judgment equally among the three defendants.
-er – never more than two
-est – never fewer than three
This is the shorter brief.
5. QUOTATION MARKS: Always place outside the comma and the period. Always place inside the colon and the semicolon
I was in the den reading Poe’s “The Telltale Heart.”
I was in the den reading Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”; I didn’t even hear the screams emanating from the microwave.