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What are the guidelines for writing currency in dialogue? Example: "They vary from fifty thousand dollars to one hundred dollars," David said. "Mine is a different," Bob countered, "ranging from ten thousand dollars to one dollar per week."

In a narrative without quotes, the numbers look okay. But for some reason, when I use them in dialogue, they look strange. Please help. Thanks.

Thank you for asking this question.

Chicago Style, which most book publishers use as a guideline, says that numerals one through one hundred should be written out and numbers may be used for larger figures, although dates are usually the exception. This guideline can apply to dialogue as well as narrative.

Frankly, I prefer to see numerals in dialogue written out, myself, especially in the examples you sent, but consistency is more important than specifics. In other words, the final sentence would be inconsistent if it were written strictly by the guideline, because it would come out like this: "Mine is different," Bob countered, "ranging from 10,000 dollars to one dollar per week."

You can see why Chicago Style allows for alternatives for consistency within paragraphs or concepts.

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Bobbie Christmas

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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