Should you use words or numbers for dates?

Should You Use Words or Numbers for Dates?


Guidelines for spelling out numbers:

  • Spell out one through one hundred.
  • Spell out numbers when used approximately: “About a hundred soldiers were killed.”
  • Spell out a number used as the first word of a sentence (Chicago 8.9-10).

Numbers in series: When enumerating a series, use numerals:

This collection contains 7 audiorecordings, 15 videorecordings, and 400 photographs.

Numbers in the same sentence but not part of the quantified category may be treated differently:

This collection contains 7 audio-recordings and 15 video-recordings from twenty-three states and 400 photographs by ten authors.

Consistency: When small and large numbers occur together in a group, set them all in numerals for consistency. When listing sets of numbers, Chicago 8.8 advises that “if you must use numerals for one of the numbers in a given category, then for consistency's sake use numerals for them all.”

There are 25 photographs in the first box, 56 in the second box, and 117 in the third box, making a total of 198 photographs in the three boxes.

Quantities (Chicago 8.3-31):

  • Units of measurement (Chicago 8.15) in running text should be spelled out. When many units of measurement appear together in text, use numerals with abbreviations (e.g., 9 g, 10 mph).
  • Express round numbers above one million in numerals and words (e.g., 20 million).
  • For percentages (Chicago

Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JANUARY 2016

Number Words: As Easy as 1, 2, 3 By Suzanne E. Rowe

Should You Use Words or Numbers for Dates?

Those of us who claim to be good at writing sometimes confess to being bad at math. How does that perceived math deficiency affect us when we write about numbers? This article covers some of the more scintillating rules.

First Things First

We should begin by defining the terms number and numeral. Sadly, that is more complicated than it should be. If you are dying to know the exact definitions of these words, please refer to the endnote.

1 The rest of you will be content to know that, in this article, numbers are values that can be expressed by words or figures (so, “11” and “eleven” are examples of numbers), and numerals are figures (so, “11” is a numeral, but “eleven” is not).

Fortunately, the rules about numbers in writing are much easier — and more scintillating — than the definitions of words related to numbers.

Your Choice

The Chicago Manual of Style, The Bluebook and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation all suggest spelling out numbers from zero to ninety-nine.

The Oregon Appellate Courts Style Manual says to spell out numbers from zero to nine (as does the Bulletin), and Chicago recognizes this alternative as popular in some publications.

All style manuals list exceptions, whatever their rule. Since the style manuals don’t agree, you get to choose.

Don’t Mix and Match

Style manuals do agree that you shouldn’t mix and match spelled-out number words (e.g., eleven) and numerals (e.g., 12) in the same sentence or paragraph. So if you are listing the number of books read by children in an elementary school’s summer program, and one student read over one hundred books, you should use numerals for all.

  • Example:
  • Millie read 4, Jillian read 36, Sam read 53, Ashley read 76, Sophie read 127, and Ella read 256.
  • Beginning Sentences

Always spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence. If you can’t abide by that simple rule in a particular instance, then you must rewrite the sentence.

  1. Wrong: 121 attorneys attended the seminar last month.
  2. Correct: One hundred twenty-one attorneys attended the seminar last month.
  3. Better: Last month, 121 attorneys attended the seminar.
  4. Big Numbers
  5. A whole number followed by hundred, thousand, hundred thousand, million and so on is typically spelled out.
  6. Examples:
  7. The children in the second grade read over five hundred books.
  8. These students have read few of the four hundred thousand books in their school’s library.

(Hey, I can dream, right? Kids, libraries, books!)

When the big number isn’t followed by one of those words, use a numeral (e.g., “501 books”). For really big numbers, combine the numeral with a word that prevents multiple zeros.


The students in all of the grades combined read 6,286 books last summer.

Each child should read for 1.3 million hours before being shown an iPhone.


An ordinal number defines “a thing’s position in a series.” First, second and third are ordinal numbers.

Follow the general rule you’ve chosen for regular numbers (which are actually called “cardinal numbers”) for ordinals as well. If you’ve chosen to write out whole numbers through 99 (“ninety-nine”), you should write out ordinals as well.

Note that ordinals are hyphenated whenever the cardinals are. Sixty-one is hyphenated, so sixty-first is, too.

Again, don’t mix and match. If the trial has been going on for nine days and has included 35 witnesses (did you all cringe at the mix and match??), choose one form:

In the trial’s ninth day, the thirty-fifth witness took the stand.

In the trial’s 9th day, the 35th witness took the stand.

Although the rest of the world prefers adding “rd” to make ordinals for numbers ending in 2 and 3, lawyers add only the letter “d” in citations (thank you, Bluebook). In text, however, follow the rest of the world by using “rd” (thank you, Bluebook for another inconsistency). The result is “P.3d” but the “123rd Congress.”

Remember that, in citations, ordinals are not superscript. That means a citation will include “9th Cir.” rather than “9th Cir.” The manuals suggest not using superscript for ordinals in text, as shown by 9th and 35th in the example earlier.

Your computer will want to show off by making all ordinals superscript because it looks so cute. Force the computer to follow your will either by turning off automatic formatting for superscript or by using the “undo” function (e.g., command + Z).


Spell out fractions that do not follow whole numbers (e.g., “use three-fourths of a bag of chocolate chips”).

Fractions following whole numbers are in the gray area, so you get to pick a rule. You can spell out these numbers if they are short (e.g., two and one-half hours). Often numerals are better (e.g., the setter on the volleyball team is 5 feet 1½ inches tall).


Express most percentages in numerals, except at the beginning of sentences. Depending on the audience, either write out “percent” or use “%.” Do not include a space before “%.”

  • Example 1: She spent fifty percent of her time in the library.
  • Example 2: She spent 50 percent of her time in court.
  • Example 3: She spent 100% of her time wishing she were at the beach.
  • Plurals

APA Style Guidelines for Numbers | Words or Numerals?

Numbers can be written either as words (e.g., one hundred) or numerals (e.g., 100). In this article we follow the guidelines of APA Style, one of the most common style guides used in academic writing.

In general, words should be used for numbers from zero through nine, and numerals should be used from 10 onwards. This is true for both cardinal numbers (e.g., two, 11) and ordinal numbers (e.g., second, 11th). However, there are some important exceptions to this rule.

Note that other style guides, such as Chicago Style, address numbers differently (for example, in Chicago, you use words for numbers up to 100). Regardless of what style guide you follow, the most important thing is to be consistent in how you treat numbers throughout your document.

See also:  3 numerical fun facts about the ncaa tournament


Use numerals for numbers from zero to nine that are followed by a precise unit of measurement.


The samples measured 7 cm in diameter. (“cm” is a unit of measurement)

But: These three samples were subjected to further testing.

Use words for any number that is used to start a sentence, with the exception of years.


  • Seventy-two thousand ink cartridges are sold every day.
  • Nineteenth-century novels often feature complicated plot lines.
  • But: 2008 saw record olive crops throughout the Mediterranean.

Use words for common fractions and set expressions.


  1. According to the survey, two thirds of the employees are dissatisfied.
  2. Understanding the Five Pillars of Islam is a critical first step.
  3. The Fourth of July is traditionally marked by a firework display.

Writing percentages

With percentages, the standard is to use numerals and “%” (not “percent”).


According to the report, 45% of the workforce is employed in the service sector. Only 6% currently work in agriculture.

The main exception is if you are using a percentage to begin a sentence. In this case, use words to express the entire percentage.


Thirteen percent of the patients reported that their symptoms improved after taking the experimental drug.

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
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  • Grammar
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See an example

Should You Use Words or Numbers for Dates?

Reporting statistical results that include numbers

If your paper includes quantitative research, you probably have data to report. Statistics, mathematical functions, ratios, and percentages are all written using numerals. This is true regardless of whether they are included within a table or as part of the actual text. Keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Report most statistics to two decimal places (such as M = 5.44).
  • Report statistics that could never exceed 1.0 to three decimal places (such as p < .001).
  • If a value has the potential to exceed 1.0, use the leading zero. If a value can never exceed 1.0, do not use the leading zero.
  • Italicize values that are not Greek letters (such as M, SD, p, and F).
  • Include spaces before and after =, >, and

Improve Your Writing

When using numbers in essays and reports, it is important to decide whether to write the number out in full (two hundred thousand four hundred and six) or to use numerals (200,406).

There are some rules to follow to make sure you use numbers in the right way.

Use words if the number can be written in two words of fewer. Remember that some words require a hyphen (twenty-six, thirty-nine). Some guides recommend that numbers up to nine should be written in words, and those over nine written using numerals.

You should use numerals if the number modifies a unit of measurement, time or proportion (5 minutes, 8 kilograms, 54 mph). Abbreviations of units of measure should always be in the singular. (8 kg, 17cm, 12,900 km)

  • I live at number forty-eight.
  • I thought there were nine biscuits left in the tin?
  • My new car does 0-60 mph in just over 12 minutes.
  • She broke the long jump record by 17 centimetres.
  • The prize marrow weighed over 67 kg.

Numerals should be used for all larger numbers although the context might determine the precise usage. In technical writing such numbers should always be written using numerals. If the number is less precise, it may be possible to write the number in words.

The rock sample measured 17.74 grams when dried.

The lower attaining maths group's mean score was 88.6, with a standard deviation of 14.3.

There are over thirty million people living in Mexico City.

Florida contains several thousand disenfranchised voters.

Numerals should always be used for decimals and fractions (7.625, 1/4 in, 1/2 a pint, 0.75) unless the figures are vague (…half the voters in the country…, …two thirds of the population cannot use a colon correctly.)

  1. Following the drying process, 1/2 a gram of copper sulphate was added.
  2. Students spend more than half their disposable income on baked beans.
  3. She beat the world pole-vault record by 1/4 cm.
  4. Nearly a quarter of the world's population survives on less than a pound a day.

Place a hyphen after a unit of measure when the unit modifies a noun: 10-foot pole, 6-inch rule, 3-year-old horse.

  • He tried to retrieve the lost bottle with a 5-foot stick.
  • I teach a class of angelic 7-year-old children.
  • The thief was unable to scale the 12-metre fence.
  • He was delighted with his 78-kg prize marrow.

There are occasions where combining written numbers and numerals will clear up possible confusion. Where you have two numbers running together, write the shorter one out in words and use numerals for the longer one.

  1. I have a lovely class of 32seven-year-old children.
  2. We need another 12five-litre bottles.
  3. The thief made off with twenty1000-dollar bills.
  4. He counted out 200 fifty-pence pieces.

You should avoid beginning a sentence with a number that is not written out. If a sentence begins with a year, write 'The year' before writing out the year in numbers.

  • One hundred and seventeen protests were lodged with the ombudsman.
  • Six hundred and thirty-five nuggets were discovered in the first day of the gold rush.
  • The year 1849 saw the great gold rush in California.

You should always use numerals in the following situations:

With dates. Monday 20 April, 1968.

I will arrive on Tuesday 17 May, 2004.

They are due back from their holiday on Monday 23 June.

With fractions, decimals and percentages. The word 'percent' should be written out in words unless it is part of a technical report, in which case it is fine to use the mathematical symbol (%).

You will need to add 1/2 a teaspoon of treacle.

More than 20 percent of students admit to spending more on pot noodles than on books.

The IQ scores of the children in the control group increased by 25.75 points.

With money. The only exception to this is when the amounts are vague. In such cases it is fine to write the numbers out in words.

The concert tickets cost £ 27.50 each.

Consumers spend over £ 6 million a year on cous-cous.

Global ice-cream sales exceeded $ 1.2 million last month.

With times. Again, if timings are vague it is fine to write them out in words.

  1. The plane from Bombay will arrive at 16:45.
  2. I'll see you at around half past seven.
  3. The early morning bus arrived at 05:10 on the dot.
  4. We left the pub at around eight o'clock and got home at around nine.

Test your understanding of the use of numbers with this exercise.

Writing Dates and Times – Grammar and Punctuation

Please note: This original post from August 24, 2008, has been updated and replaced by a new version of Writing Dates and Times, published on April 19, 2017.

Rule: The following examples apply when using dates:

The meeting is scheduled for June 30.
The meeting is scheduled for the 30th of June.
We have had tricks played on us on April 1.
The 1st of April puts some people on edge. (Some prefer to write it out: The first of April)

Rule: There are differing policies for expressing decades using numerals. Some write the 1980s and the ’80s, others write the 1980’s and the 80’s. However, using two apostrophes (the ’80’s) is awkward and is not recommended.

See also:  What are sequences in math?

During the ’80s, the world’s economy grew.
During the 1980s, the world’s economy grew.
During the 1980’s, the world’s economy grew.

Not Advised:
During the ’80’s, the world’s economy grew.

Rule: Some writers spell out the time of day, others prefer numbers.

Example: She gets up at four thirty before the baby wakes up.
Example: The baby wakes up at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Rule: Some use numerals with the time of day when exact times are being emphasized.

Example: Her flight leaves at 6:22 a.m.
Example: Please arrive by 12:30 p.m. sharp.

Rule: It is clearer to use noon and midnight rather than 12:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m.

Note: You may use AM and PM, A.M. and P.M., am and pm, or a.m. and p.m.
Some put a space after the numeral, others do not.

Example: Her flight leaves at 6:22 a.m.
Example: Her flight leaves at 6:22am.
Example: Please arrive by 12:30 P.M. sharp.

Pop Quiz: Correct or Incorrect?

1. The last outbreak of smallpox occurred in the late seventy’s.
2. Can you get here by 12:00 midnight?

3. Please deliver the package by August 1st.

Pop Quiz Answers:

1. The last outbreak of smallpox occurred in the late seventies.
2. Can you get here by midnight? (leave out 12:00)

3. Please deliver the package by August 1. (OR by the first of August OR by the 1st of August)

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2008, at 11:24 pm

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869 Comments on Writing Dates and Times

Correct Date Format | How To Write The Date In English

What is the correct date format in English? How you do this usually depends on whether you write a formal letter or an informal note; or whether your use the British or American date format. As you can see from the examples below, there are a number of ways in which you can write the same date. A general rule: the more complicated the style of date, the more formal it is.

In British English, which is mainly used in Australia, the day is followed by the month, which is then followed by the year. The 6th day of the month September, in the year 2019, might be written in full (in order of complexity):

  • 6 Sept
  • 6 September
  • 6 September 2019
  • 6th September 2019
  • the 6th of September 2019
  • the 6th of September, 2019

The last two date formats are more formal. The “the” and “of” are optional but if you do use them, you must add both “the” and “of.” It is incorrect to say only “6th of September” or “the 6th September.”

As for the year, commas are not necessary when you write the date in British English, but you can if you prefer this style.

If you wish to add the name of the day, it should come before the date, and should either be separated by a comma or joined by “the” and “of.”

  • Saturday, 13 April 2019
  • Saturday the 13th of April, 2019

If you prefer to abbreviate the date, you can use the following style in British English. Again, the day comes first, then the month, then the year.

Rules for Writing Numbers

Numbers don't just show up in math assignments, but also in everyday writing. Like many facets of the English language, there are rules for writing numbers.

Yes, imagine that! There are certain numbers that we spell out in letters and others we only write as numerals. You've probably come across more than your fair share of 'Top 10' lists.

Why is it not a 'Top Ten' list? Keep reading to find out.

As is often the case in English, there are some exceptions to the rules outlined below. As with other grammar rules, rules for writing numbers change according to certain style guides (i.e. Chicago Manual of Style, AP, MLA, etc.). However, here are some general rules for spelling out numbers.

Numbers under 10:

  • Martin has two younger sisters and five older brothers.
  • Mary read four new books last week and seven newspaper articles.

Numbers at the beginning of a sentence:

  • Sixty children came to the class trip last year but, this year, there were 80.
  • Fifty-two miles were all she had left on her journey to Scotland.


  • About one-third of the group comes from China.
  • She filled her gas tank with two-thirds of a gallon.

The exception to this rule pertains to mixed fraction. We then use numerals (unless, of course, it comes at the beginning of a sentence):

  • The recipe calls for cups of nuts.
  • Our class art project calls for cups of glitter.
  • She's bought about 12 pairs of shoes and 16 dresses in the last three months.

When numbers are in a list, it's best to keep all the numbers in the list consistent, even if some numbers are under 10 and some are over:

  • Incorrect: She has four brothers aged seven, nine, 12, and 15.
  • Correct: She has four brothers aged 7, 9, 12, and 15.
  • Incorrect: Mary's traveled to three European countries and 14 deserted islands.
  • Correct: Mary's traveled to 3 European countries and 14 deserted islands.


  • Are you coming to the game on May 21st?
  • Join our spooky Halloween party: 10/31/2018.

We do not use ordinal numbers (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd) with full dates:

  • Incorrect: The play is on March 23rd, 2010.
  • Correct: The play is on March 23, 2010.


  • According to the latest survey, 52% of teachers live in the city.
  • It's good to know that only 7% of Americans say they are unhappy.

If a percentage begins a sentence, it should be spelled out:

  • Fifty-two percent of teachers live in the city.
  • Ninety-three percent of Americans say they are happy.


  • There were 3.73 inches of rain last month.
  • The mountain accumulated 8.98 inches of snow today.

Numbers and Money

When it comes to money, numbers follow their own set of rules. Money is usually written as numerals, but can be written out when the amount is vague or rounded up – “it cost two or three dollars.” Here are some of the most important guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Currency symbols should be placed before the number, with no spaces.Example: She earned $2,750 for that project.
  • Thousands should be separated by commas.Example: Marcy inherited $35,000 from her late uncle.
  • Decimals should be separated by periods.Example: Seamus only spent $149.99 on that new smart TV.
  • When you reach numbers in the millions and billions, write out the full word (instead of all those zeros).Example: That new company earned $10 million in 2018.
  • Do not write out the currency if you've already indicated an amount with a currency symbol.Example: I have $895 left in my checking account.

More than One Rule

The following are special instances that may be written in multiple ways.


  • She lived in San Francisco in the eighties.
  • During the 1980s, she lived in San Francisco.
  • She lived in San Francisco in the '80s.
See also:  How to survive the sinking of the titanic


We usually spell out the time when it is followed by o'clock or when a.m. or p.m. is not mentioned. However, we use numerals when we need to emphasize the exact time and when using a.m. and p.m.

Using o'clock:

  • Incorrect: We have to get up at 6 o'clock to be on time for school.
  • Correct: We have to get up at six o'clock to be on time for school.
  • Correct: She gets home around eight in the evening.

Using a.m. or p.m.

  • Incorrect: They did not leave the party until two a.m.
  • Correct: The accident happened at 8:22 p.m. last night.
  • Correct: They did not leave the party until 2 a.m.

Also, it's common to spell out noon and midnight instead of writing 12:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.

  • We came home around midnight and slept until noon the next day.
  • At midnight, the countdown for our trip will last until takeoff at noon tomorrow.

Final Note

When in doubt about whether to spell out or write a number, it's usually best to spell it out. However, for larger numbers, you can always err on the side of numeral form:

  • The publishing company sold 10 million copies of my book last year.
  • There are 1,500 sequins on that wedding dress!

If you're ready to get stuck into some more numbers, explore those that can be expressed as a quotient with these Rational Number Examples.

Mom Waking Up Her Son As Rules for Writing Numbers

Numbers in Fiction

January 13, 2013 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill last modified September 9, 2015

We’ve got rules and standards for everything we include in our novels—how to start those novels, how to increase tension, how to introduce characters, how to format, what to include in dialogue, how to punctuate dialogue, what to exclude from the first chapter. And we have rules for numbers. Or maybe we should call all these rules conventions.

This article covers a few common specifics of using numbers and numerals in fiction. I’m just going to list the rules here, without much explanation, laying out those that you’ll typically make use of in a novel.

Keep in mind that there are always exceptions. For the most part, you’ll want to stick to the standards to make the read smooth and easy for the reader and create consistency within the manuscript.

Yet we’re talking fiction here, not a treatise or dissertation or scientific finding. You have choices. And style choices sometimes get to stomp all over the rules. If you want to flout the rules, do so for a reason and do so consistently every time that same reason is applicable in the manuscript.

  • For a comprehensive list of the rules concerning numbers, check out the Chicago Manual of Style or another style guide.
  • ______________________
  • General Rules

__ Spell out numbers from zero through one hundred. You could argue for zero through nine, as is recommended for AP style, but do note that the recommendations in the Associated Press Stylebook are primarily for newspaper and magazine writing. Some rules are different for fiction.

You could also make a style choice to spell out almost all numbers, even if that conflicts with this and other rules.

Use numerals for most numbers beyond one hundred. While this is the standard, there are definitely exceptions to this one.

  1. The witch offered Snow White one crisp, dewy apple.
  2. Bobby Sue sang thirty-two songs before her voice gave out.
  3. The rock-a-thon lasted for just over 113 hours.
  4. The witch offered Snow White 1 crisp, dewy apple. Incorrect

__ Spell out these same numbers (0-100) even if they’re followed by hundred or thousand. (Your characters may have reason to say or think all manner of odd numbers, so yes, zero thousand might come up, even though this isn’t a common usage in our 3-D lives.)

  • The forces at Wilmington were bolstered by the arrival of ten thousand fresh soldiers.
  • The knight had died four hundred years earlier.
  • But—The knight had died 418 years earlier.

“How many thousands of lies have you told?”
“I’ve told zero thousand, you fool.”

__ Spell out ordinal numbers through one hundred as well—even for military units and street names. Ordinal numbers are often used to show relationship and rank.

We’d write the Eighty-second Airborne Division but the 101st Airborne Division. (Newspapers and military publications may have different conventions.)

A restaurant would be on Fifth Avenue, not 5th Avenue. Or the restaurant is on 129th Street, not One hundred and twenty-ninth Street.

A quick guide to ordinals—

no ordinal for zero      twentieth
first                            twenty-first
second                        twenty-second
third                           and so on . . .

sixth                           thirtieth (thirty-first, thirty-second, and so on)
seventh                       fortieth
eighth                         fiftieth
ninth                           sixtieth
tenth                          seventieth
eleventh                     eightieth
twelfth                       ninetieth
fourteenth                                               one hundredth
fifteenth*                                                 one thousandth
sixteenth                                                  one millionth


The only odd ordinals are those using fives—fifth and fifteenth. Note the letter D in both hundredth and thousandth.

__ Use full-size letters, not superscript, to mark ordinal numbers (st, nd, rd, th) written as numerals.

__ Use first, second, third and so on rather than firstly, secondly, thirdly unless your character would use this odd construction as part of her style.

__ Spell out numbers that start a sentence. If spelling creates something awkward, rewrite.

One hundred and fifteen [not 115] waiters applied for the job.

__ Hyphenate compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine. Do this when the number is used alone and when used in combination with other numbers.

  1. Louise owned forty-one cars.
  2. “I heard she owned one hundred and thirty-five diamond rings.”
  3. __ For an easier read, when numbers are written side by side, write one as a numeral and the other as a word.
  4. He made 5 one-hundred-pound cakes.
  5. We lashed 3 six-foot ladders together.
  6. __ Spell out simple fractions and hyphenate them.
  7. He took only one-half of yesterday’s vote.
  8. He needed a two-thirds majority to win the election.
  9. __ For the most part, treat large numbers, made large by being paired with the words million, billion, and so on, just as you would other numbers.
  10. Some nine [not greater than one hundred, so spelled out] million years ago, the inhabitants of Ekron migrated to our solar system.
  11. The family had collected the pennies, 433 [greater than one hundred] million of them, over eighty years.
  12. But for large numbers with decimals, even if the number is less than 101, use the numeral version.

The team needed 10.5 million signatures for their petition.

  • Yet since we want to hear the words, you could just as easily write—
  • The team needed ten and a half million signatures for their petition.
  • This last example works both for narration and dialogue. But for dialogue you could also write—
  • “The team needed ten point five million.”

__ Use words rather than symbols and abbreviations in dialogue and in most narrative. Symbols are a visual representation, but characters need to think and speak the words.

Use the words rather than the symbols for degree (°) and percent (%) and number (#), both in dialogue and narrative. Use the word dollar rather than the dollar sign ($) in dialogue. Do not abbreviate the words pounds or ounces, feet or inches (or yards), hours or minutes or seconds, or miles per hour (or similar words) in dialogue or narrative.

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