# Is it "2-8 days" or "two to eight days"?

When I am writing a book and referring to something that lasts 2-8 days, do I say "2-8 days" or "two to eight days"? Also, when referring to how much of something I would use, would I say "2-4 tablespoons" or "two to four tablespoons"?

• In general, you can do it however you want as long as you are consistent about it. If you're writing for a particular publisher, get the style guide they use and follow that. Sep 4, 2014 at 21:32
• You can't say "2-8" at all vocally. It is said as "two to eight" or "two through eight". Sep 4, 2014 at 22:19
• You should separate numeric ranges using an en dash instead of a hyphen-minus, so 2–8 not 2-8. Sometimes it is better to space the operands: Safe when stored at −10° – +40° C.
– tchrist
Sep 5, 2014 at 4:41
• Sep 5, 2014 at 11:46
• @Mari-LouA I’m sorry that Microsoft expects you to remember such a long and complicated, and unmnemonic, a keystroke sequence. On a Mac, you use the ALT key like a shifter and hit the regular `-` character for an en dash (`–`), and both ALT and SHIFT with the regular `-` for the longer em dash (`—`).
– tchrist
Sep 5, 2014 at 12:12

Both are valid, but imho the numerical format is more succinct and stands out from the surrounding text.

Consider this sentence:

During my holiday trip, I will spend just 1-2 nights in London followed by 10-15 days touring the rest of Europe, and return by 28th or 29th.

• 1-2 finely chopped onions

• 3-5 tsp flour

• Few pinches of salt

In both these, I think writing out the numbers in long hand will make it excessively verbose.

As a counterexample, consider the lumber size 'two by four' , representing it as '2 x 4' may take a bit of processing for people who parse 'x' symbol as 'into/multiplied by'. However, when a smaller number is followed by a larger number and separated by '-', it's common to read the symbol as 'to' (unless it's in a mathematical sense).

• +1 for using the word "succinct"! Off-topic, but a good example for consonant clusters. (: Sep 4, 2014 at 22:22
• @Neeku Thanks, that formatting looks much better. Also, oops on the 'its' mistake :P
– Alok
Sep 4, 2014 at 23:37

Both convey the same meaning but the fully written form "two to eight days"/"two to four tablespoons" doesn't leave place to any effort of interpretation: It explains what the dash would stand for.

• This might try to answer the question, but it only expresses a personal opinion without providing any reference. Sep 4, 2014 at 22:00
• Also, I didn't downvote! Sep 4, 2014 at 22:03
• @Neeku I tried to expand some more
– Mina
Sep 5, 2014 at 6:54
• This still shows your own personal opinion. Formatting your own opinion as quotation, doesn't really improve the quality of your answer at all. Sep 5, 2014 at 9:08
• @Neeku Tried to remove myself from the equation
– Mina
Sep 5, 2014 at 20:25