Correct way to write a number range?
February 2, 2021 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a hard time finding a straight answer to how to write this in APA format: 1 to 2 minutes.

In APA, what would be the correct way?

1 to 2 minutes
1-2 minutes
1-to-2 minutes
One to two minutes
One-to-two minutes
One- to two- minutes

Something else?

Thank you! We are going round and round about this.
posted by Lutoslawski to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
Best answer: It seems that you can't find a straight answer because there is no formal APA rule?

From the APA blog post comparing MLA and APA styling of numbers (admittedly, from 2014), it says:

In ranges of numbers, MLA Style includes the entire second number for numbers up to 99 (1-12; 25-29; 75-99) but uses only the last two digits of the second number for larger numbers, unless more are needed (95-105; 105-19; 2,104-08; 5,362-451). Ranges of years beginning in 1000 AD have their own rules: If the first two digits of both years are the same, include only the last two digits of the second year (1955-85; 2004-09). Otherwise, both numbers should be fully written out (1887-1913; 1998-2008).

APA Style does not have explicit rules for ranges of numbers, except for when referring to a page range or a range of dates in a reference list entry. Numerous examples in Chapter 7 of the Publication Manual show both numbers in a page range being written out in full, regardless of size, and example 23 on page 204 demonstrates the same concept applied to a range of years. These rules relate to APA Style’s emphasis on the importance of specificity and clarity in scientific writing. Thus, a range of numbers (10–40; 101–109; 5,000–5,025; 90,013–90,157) or dates (1999–2003; 2009–2012) should never be abbreviated.

posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 8:44 AM on February 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: That blog post is specifically about the 6th edition, but I can't find anything to the contrary in the 7th.

Combined with the APA 7 rules that numbers should be expressed as numerals when they precede a unit of measurement (minutes in this case) or when they express a time, I think "1–2 minutes" is the best approach.

Strictly speaking, there should be an en dash ( – ) between the numbers, not a hyphen.
posted by jedicus at 8:46 AM on February 2, 2021 [13 favorites]

According to APA 7, page 178, numbers that represent time, dates, ages, scores and points on a scale, exact sums of money, and numerals as numerals are "numbers expressed in numerals."
posted by ralan at 8:46 AM on February 2, 2021

But definitely no extra hyphens (as in 1-to-2 minutes, One-to-two minutes, One- to two- minutes), no matter the style.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:30 AM on February 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

APA 7, page 179 gives examples of mixing numbers and words to enhance clarity, such as "ten 7-point scales" so it may depend on what the rest of your sentence says.

"Subjects then rested for forty-seven 1 to 2 minute periods" or perhaps "Subjects then rested for 47 one to two minute periods." (Neither of these is great, in my opinion)
posted by soylent00FF00 at 1:01 PM on February 2, 2021

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