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Writing fractions as numbers

Common Fractions

Common fractions are expressed with hyphenated words, whether the fraction is used as an adjective or a noun. Mixed fractions are typically expressed in numerals.

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Only three-fourths of the patients studied developed symptoms.
Only one-half the normal dose was given.

In some cases, fractions can be expressed with an indefinite article preceding the denominator. Do not use the hyphen with this type of construction.

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The study was terminated after half an hour.

Fractions are hyphenated when they are used as adjectives; do not hyphenate fractions used as nouns or objects of a prepositional phrase.

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one-half normal strength (adjective)
proximal one-third of the forearm (noun phrase)
The patient was advised to cut the pills in half (object of preposition)

A quarter may be used in place of one-fourth.

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A quarter of the patients studied developed the predicted symptoms.

 Use the numeric fraction when the measurement forms a compound modifier preceding a noun.

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A 1/4-inch incision was made.
The 3/4-pound lesion was removed.

Mixed Fractions

For less precise measurements, mixed fractions may be used instead of decimals. These are typically measures of time or nonmetric measurements.

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The surgery lasted 6½ hours.
The laceration measured 1¼ inches.
The patient was n.p.o. for 3½ days.
NOTE: The AHDI Book of Style 3rd Ed. places a hyphen (i.e., 6-½, 1-¼, etc.) and the AMA Manual of Style does not. If your word processor does not have the appropriate symbols for the fractions, then the hyphen is necessary (i.e., 6-1/2, 1-1/4, etc.). 
When an expanded expression is used for a precise measurement, convert to a fraction.
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D: The patient walks one and a half miles a day.
T: The patient walks 1-1/2 miles a day OR The patient walks 1½ miles a day.

Fractions dictated with a decimal point

If a fraction is dictated as a decimal point, use the decimal form.

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D: The scar measures 2-point-3 inches in length.
T: The scar measures 2.3 inches in length
See also: Decimals
NOTE: Visual acuity is not a fraction. It is never written out and is always expressed in the form of two Arabic numbers separated by a virgule.


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Page last modified on Sunday 11 of September, 2011 14:12:48 UTC by admin.
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