One of the trickiest problems when editing a manuscript is deciding which words need hyphens.
Editing my third novel in 2016, I realised that I’d committed a lazy (but common) typing error, as when I wanted to type an em dash to mark a break in a sentence or an en dash for dates I’d used the hyphen key. The conventional QWERTY keyboard is inadequate in many ways, when it comes to punctuation, requiring one to use the numeric keyboard for foreign accent marks and the en and em dash.
An explanation of the differences:
How to type them: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/type-em-en-dashes-word-processor/
Having corrected that error, I moved onto tackling numbers. I was taught as a youngster, to write out all numbers up to one hundred, except for dates, but from 100 on it was OK to use the numerical form. Looking online, modern style guides offer conflicting advice. Some say to write numbers up to ten, but thereafter the numerical form is acceptable. This looks odd to me, as well as lazy, though I appreciate that it may make the reading process swifter.
Using a sentence from my first novel, the way that it now reads is:
There’d only been five constables who’d died in the county in the whole of the twentieth century, and now a Detective Inspector lay murdered fourteen years into the twenty-first.
But, if I followed the modern style guides it would be:
There’d only been five constables who’d died in the county in the whole of the 20th century, and now a Detective Inspector lay murdered 14 years into the 21st.
The corrected version looks more like outline notes to me, rather than a sentence fit for printing.
What do you do when typing numbers?