VCH Style Guidelines

Figures and Numerals

As a general principle numbers should be written out in full from one to ten and in arabic numerals after this. An exception may be when there are many figures under discussion in a sentence - if the rule is broken for this reason it must be broken consistently!

See Chapter 7 (Numbers) of the Oxford Guide to Style for a comprehensive discussion of this topic.

hectare, hectares (units)

If these units are used in a source they should not, ordinarily, be converted into acres except for ease of comparison. They should be abbrieviated as ha. whether singular or plural.

See also: acre, acres, hectare, hectares (abbreviation)

ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers are always spelt out, except in the text when used for centuries or in enumerating peers or baronets (see also baronets; peers), and in footnotes in 1st ser. and the like; they should never be used for days of the month (see dates).

There is no full point after ‘1st’, ‘2nd’, ‘3rd’ etc.

Note that superscripts should never be used in this circumstance.

  • He was the third headmaster in six years.
  • In the early 19th century
  • William, the 5th baron
  • Sir Thomas Fermor Hesketh, the 7th baronet


Shares expressed as fractions and the titles of medieval fractional taxes should be printed as words,

  The manor was divided into three parts: Smith conveyed a third of it to his sister and another third to his butler. The final third was conveyed to King's College, Cambridge.

  the fifteenth of 1327

Fractions of knights’ fees and fractions used as units of measurement, however, should be printed as figures. For example:

  1/20 knight’s fee

  ½ mark

Note, however, a third; two thirds

house numbers

Use a figure, without a comma as part of an address, but write out `number’ in full when the house number is separated from the street name.

  •   He lived at 10 Melrose Avenue.
  •   Born at 6 Melrose Avenue, he later moved to number 10.
  •   The town ditch runs between numbers 22 and 24.

enumeration of sovereigns, family members and peers

Enumeration of sovereigns: For the kings and queens of England use roman capitals without stops.

  Edward I

Enumeration of members of a family: If it is necessary to use numbers to distinguish members of a family with the same forename use roman capitals in round brackets.

  • to John (I) and Eleanor Bluet.
  • John (II) died in 1393. His son John Bluet (III) sold

Enumeration of peers: The most exact way to distinguish one peer from another of the same title is by giving the date of death, and is normally to be preferred. Where it is desirable, for stylistic or other reasons, to use instead the enumeration of the title, use the form

  • William, the 5th baron
  • Philip Yorke, 2nd earl of Hardwicke

Where more than one creation exists the enumeration of the title should be that of the creation concerned. The creation should be given only in exceptional circumstances.

See: Royal Family; Peers

Abbreviation of figures

Use the least number of figures, except for numbers from 10 to 19 standing alone or in addition to hundreds or thousands. Follow the same ruling for dates, but never repeat only three out of four figures in a date.


Collective numbers in figures must not be abbreviated, and must be given in full.


ranges of numbers

Ranges of numbers should use the fewest digits consistent with intelligibility, except when the range ends in a number between 10 and 19, where two digits are always required.

  • Follow the same rule for dates, but never repeat only three out of four figures.
  • Use an en-rule, not a hyphen, to separate the figures.
  • Ranges of numerals must always be given in full.

For example:

  • 1–11
  • 22–8
  • 246–51
  • 213–15
  • 1099–1101
  • 1214–16
  • 10,000–12,000

See also: years

Numbers and Enumeration

In general, numbers up to ten should be spelt out, those over should be given in figures, although figures should always be used for dates and units of measurement, however small.

Sentences should not begin with figures nor end with figures under 10. Avoid figures in phrases which do not aim at precision, and in compound words where numbers are joined by hyphens to other words.

Use figures for dates, units of measurement, lists, the enumeration of titles and centuries, and precise numbers over nine.

  • Three smallholdings each consisted of 4 a.
  • He later moved to a 25-a. holding.
  • Pupil numbers rose from eight to 15 over a six-year period.
  • He was headmaster for over thirty years.
  • There were 30 cottages on the estate in 1860.

It is not possible to furnish guidance to suit every contingency, and the context, especially in narrative passages in ‘general’ articles, will occasionally suggest a departure from the principles set out above.

  • lived for some thirty years in the parish
  • about twenty miles to the east
  • three-light window
  • two-hide unit
  • half-yardlander
  • 3 ministers, 4 deacons, and 224 members.
  • Evans’s statistical survey, c. 1715, however, mentions but one pastor. He is said to have drawn a congregation of 600, four of whom were ‘very rich’. Davisson, the second, and Thomas Lucas, the third pastor, were reputed to be teachers.

See also: units of measurementEnumeration of sovereigns, family members and peers.