Numbers: Number sign

April 18, 2002: Issue 19

SIM STYLE: When do I use the # sign, and when do I use “No.”?
Most of the time, “No.” is the correct abbreviation for “number.” When referring to artist’s brushes or product names and model numbers (especially in buying guides), however, use the # sign.
correct: The No. 1 reason; ranked No. 1
correct:730 17th St., No. 17
correct: #2 liner brush, #5 flat brush
correct: No. 6 drywall screws
correct: No. 8×2-inch galvanized wood screws
correct: #21-6 Kee Klamp flanges
correct: Wall paint Pekoe Tea #7673M

For more information, see Issue 60.

GRAMMAR: Is it a dilemma if homeowners say they often feel torn between their tropical backyard pool retreat and their home theater?
Not really. By definition, a dilemma is a choice between two alternatives, both with undesirable consequences. In casual conversation and writing, the term can be used more loosely, but it should still be reserved for particularly tough or nagging problems.

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