I've found some support for my take on this issue:
Originally Posted by DecemberQuinn on AbsoluteWrite, in answer to the query:
I've recently been told it's wrong to start a sentence with numerals;
i.e. "5235 Western Road was a big blue house...
I've never heard this rule before--it sounds silly to me . . . [is it
actually a rule at all?]"
Silly, arbitrary, whatever--it's an old rule listed in my most ancient
grammar book and still alive and well today.
One finds, in response to a further comment in this thread:
You're a victim of someone who read something like the "Associated
Press Stylebook" and mistook it for a universal authority. It's not.
The issue you bring up is a style issue -- NOT a matter of right and
wrong. And writers aren't really responsible for knowing style.
Yes, most publications/publishers eschew numerals at the start of
sentences (with some exceptions)...
If I were you, I would take a very broad and oversimplied [sic]
approach to the "Chicago Manual of Style." (Bear in mind that Chicago
has a WHOLE CHAPTER full of rules[,] and exceptions to the rules[,]
and exceptions to the exceptions -- just on when to write numerals or
spell out numbers. Nobody expects writers to know them all.)
- In the future, take every bit of grammar/punctuation/style advice with a grain of salt. Style books disagree. They disagree on style
matters, which exist purely for consistency's sake.
P.S. DON'T listen to the Elements of Style. That was a style guide for
one college professor's classroom a hundred years ago. Some of its
wisdom still applies today. But it's not an official style guide that
publishers follow today.
Again, in this thread at UsingEnglish.com:
Can we start a sentence with a number as in the sentence: '2010 will
be a crucial year in the history of Singapore with the next general
election most likely held sometime either in the middle of the year or
towards the end,' or should we write "The year, 2010, will..."?
You can start with a numeral, and the context should tell you what the
numeral relates to. In this case a new year.
Grammar-Monster (Susan's second link) has:
For neatness, try to avoid starting sentences with figures. However,
if the number at the start of your sentence has a decimal point and
you cannot reword the sentence, just leave it as it is. . . . If a number
contains a decimal point, just leave it as it is. The "fix" is worse
than the "fault."
Susan herself recommends
One exception that I have not seen but would not hesitate to use, if I
could not, for some reason, rearrange the wording is an exceedingly
A sensible, if arbitrary (on two counts), rule of thumb. I'm quite happy to accept the beginning of a sentence with any numeral; I might have once considered it 'untidy' myself, but can find no logical reason for this way of feeling. The effect of legalistic teachers, in all likelihood.