How to Present Figures in a Bid Submission

Using Figures in Tenders

How to Present Figures in a Bid Submission

Most RFP responses, and even business reports, are littered with inconsistencies when using figures.  Here are a few rules from the Economist Style Guide to keep you on the straight and narrow.

In the style guide of most publications figures start at 10, but avoid mixing figures and words:  For instance, write ‘9 – 10’ animals instead of ‘nine -10’.

Don’t start a sentence with a figure; write the number in words instead.  Use words for simple numerals from one to ten inclusive, except: in reference to pages; in percentages (e.g. 4%); and in sets of numerals, some of which are higher than ten.

Births with this condition in the past three years were 19, 8 and 5.

Always use numbers with units of measurement, even for those less than ten:

6 centimetres, but 6 cows.

Decimal Point

Use figures for all numerals that include a decimal point (8.75).


Figures may be appropriate for fractions, if the context is either technical or precise, or both:

Though the poll’s figures were supposed to be accurate to within 1%, his lead of 4 ¼ points turned out on Election Day to be minus 3 ½.

Where precision is less important but it is nonetheless impossible to shoot off the fraction, words may look better.

Though the beast was sold as a two year old, it turned out to be two-and-a-half times that.

Fractions should be hyphenated (one-half, three-quarters, etc.) and unless they are attached to whole numbers (8 ½, 29 ¾) spelled out in words, even when the figures are higher than ten:

Fractions and Decimals

Do not compare a fraction with a decimal.  So avoid:

The rate fell from 3 ¼% to 3.1%.

Hyphens and Figures

Do not use a hyphen in place of ‘to’, except with figures.

He received a sentence of 15-20 years in jail but he promised to have escaped within three to four weeks.


Hopefully these bid writing tips will help you understand the correct way to use figures the next time you have to tender for a government contract.

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