What is actually technically a zero number

Numbers in theses and term papers

When writing numbers in scientific papers, a distinction is made between numbers, digits and numerical words. This is not just a question of style. According to Duden, there are clear regulations for the use and spelling, which also play a major role in the grading of your bachelor thesis, term paper or master’s thesis.

What is a digit, what is a number and what is a number?

Before we explain to you when you have to or should use a digit or a number in your scientific work, it is important that you understand how the two differ.

The difference between digits and numbers is easy to explain. Numbers are number symbols or numerals: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. A number is made up of several digits: 459 consists of the digits 4, 5 and 9. A numeric word is an advertisement for a number or digit, e.g. B. zero, one, three thousand, twenty-four.

Student tip: Numerical words are not always used in scientific papers. In some cases, the use of digits and numbers is even mandatory.

Use of numbers in scientific work

Use of numbers in the text:

Numbers from one to twelve can be written out in the text as a numeric word. From the number 13, the numeric notation is used. This regulation originates from the printing press and is still widely used today. However, you do not have to formulate the numbers from thirteen as a digit.

Use in connection with statistics:

In order to better assign the value of the noun in the text, numbers or digits are always used. For example: term paper with 2 illustrations; Bachelor thesis with 5 chapters.

Measured variables and abbreviations:

If you use abbreviations in your scientific work for better readability, e.g. B. Measures, weights, currency units, you have to use numbers or digits. Example: 10 km, 5 kg, 30 EUR.

Spelling out one- and two-syllable numerals:

This is a question of style, to what extent the number should have a meaning in the text. The weighting of a number is higher than a numeric word. In general, however, only one- and two-syllable numerals are spelled out.

Example:1a-Studi supports one hundred students a month with their scientific work; 1a-Studi supports 100 students a month with their scientific work. 1a-Studi supports over fifteen departments. Many thanks for your interest in this article.

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Rules for using numbers in scientific papers

Separation of thousands:

Thousands are not separated with a point in Germany (according to Duden). The compilation or spaces in three-digit groups apply.

Example correct: 12,000 or 12,000

Not correct: 12.000

Student tip: This regulation of the representation of numbers is deliberately ignored by very many authors. Often the thousands are separated by a period, which is wrong. Unfortunately, this spelling has become anchored in many people's heads, so that it is also often used by students. However, strict examiners deduct points from the assessment.

Comparison with digits:

If you formulate a comparison in your scientific work, you should always use numbers.

Example: 1a-Studi found 12 point errors compared to my friend with 5 point errors.

Mathematical and statistical use:

You should always use numbers and digits here.

Example: After adjusting the survey results, the sum of the male participants was multiplied by 6. It's about 2 million euros that I inherited.

If you use digits with units, sizes or abbreviations, these are always separated with a space.

Example: 1 m, 10 km, a = 5.8 mW

Numbers that indicate sizes, values ​​or figures:

Again, you should always use digits.

Example: It takes 10 minutes to read this article. Thanks to this knowledge, I passed my scientific work and was able to shorten 1 semester. My matriculation number ends with number 5.

Reference to figures and tables:

If you refer to a figure or a table in your scientific paper, then you have to use a number.

Example: Figure 3 clearly shows the relationship. As can be seen in Table 1, all values ​​are positive.

Range of values ​​in use with:

If you introduce a range of values ​​with "from", then there must be "to" between the numbers.

Student tip: A common mistake is using a hyphen. The editors from 1a-Studi will be happy to support you in correcting your scientific work and are guaranteed to find these and similar sources of error.

Numbers and digits at the beginning of a sentence in academic papers:

Numbers, for example 3, 7 or 12, cannot appear at the beginning of a sentence.

Numerals as page numbers:

Numbers are never used as page numbers. Numbers are always used. This rule also includes Roman numerals such as I, II, IV, which are usually used for the directories.

Student tip: In general, there should be consistency in your academic work. Do you decide to use numerals in the text, e.g. B. five of the statements are difficult to weight, then you should continue this style and not switch to: the other 4 statements have a low weighting.

Write out numbers. Numbers from 1 to 12

In scientific theses such as the bachelor's or master's thesis, as well as in term papers, there are often requirements that numbers must be written out. This then applies to the numbers from 1 to 12, which must be written out as a numeric word (one, two, ... twelve). You write the number as a word. Another example of this is a hundred thousand versus the number 100,000.

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For your correction & examination

All numbers greater than twelve are formulated as a number, e.g. B. 13 students took part in the survey. 24 professors agreed. Whether you have to write out numbers in your academic paper is defined in your university guidelines. If you are unsure, always ask your professor or give the advice to your 1a-Studi lecturer when correcting your thesis.


Summary: numbers in scientific papers

  • You can write out numbers in general, but digits are often used from 13 onwards
  • You have to use numbers in conjunction with abbreviations
  • When making comparisons, you should always use numbers
  • Thousands are not separated by a period
  • References to figures and tables are always given with a number
  • Do not use numerals as the page number

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