For Checks and Blog Content, We Need Both Words and Numbers

Writing a check
When it comes to check writing, business humorist Todd Hunt learned the hard way, words trump numbers. The humiliation will live with him forever, he admits, but he learned something: The bank goes by the amount you write in words (on the line that says “Pay”), not the numerals you write in the box. What actually happened, Hunt explains, is that he miswrote the words, which made his check worth more than he meant it to be…resulting in an overdraft. So, he concludes, words trump numerals.

In fact, to prevent his readers from falling into the same trap, Hunt shares an instructive article about foiling crooks when using checks. The gist of it is, write out the amount using words to avoid fraud and confusion.

“I am a Qualitative Social Scientist,” states Sarah-Louise Quinnell “I believe in that words tell you more than numbers”, she says, She came to that conclusion, she reveals, in researching cognitive processes for her Doctoral thesis.

For example, Quinell discusses a particular statistic:

“85% of students ranked the class a 4 or above”.

That sounds positive, she explains, until you dig a bit deeper and find out that only 30% of the people in the class answered the question!

“Words on the other hand,” she points out, “are harder to manipulate. They also tell you why someone voted a particular way.” To improve customer satisfaction you need to understand the why’s,” she concludes.

Business blog headlines and business blogs themselves are filled to the brim with statistics. In fact, one of the hottest trends in business blogging today is infographics, which is a way of presenting statistics in visually appealing form by combining numbers with graphic images. “Infographics are all over the place nowadays. How do you know which ones to trust?” asks Randy Olson.

In fact, Olson views “data visualizations” or “infographics” with a jaundiced eye. Yes, he admits, they have repeatedly provided us with new and insightful perspectives on the world around us. However, time and time again, he says, “we have seen that data visualizations can easily be manipulated to lie.”

As a corporate blogging trainer, I see a lot of value in the use of numbers in blog posts (assuming, of course, that statistics are presented fairly and honestly).

Using numbers in blog post titles is a great way to set expectations for a post. It tells readers exactly what they’re going to get, and exactly how much of it, says Pamela Vaughan of Hubspot.

But where the words come in, I believe, is that one of the primary functions blogs serve is putting statistics into perspective, so that readers are given the answer to the “So what?” and “So, what’s in-it-for-me” questions.

Payors must fill out their checks with both words and numbers. Business blog post content writers should do the same.

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