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Significant Digits and Rounding Numbers 

Study Design and Statistics

Margaret A. Winker

and Stephen J. Lurie

When numbers are expressed in scientific and biomedical articles, they should reflect the degree of accuracy of the original measurement. Numbers obtained from mathematical calculations should be rounded to reflect the original degree of precision. The use of a numeral in a numbers column (eg, the ones column) implies that the method of measurement is accurate to that level of precision. For example, when a reporter attempts to estimate the size of a crowd, the estimate might be to the nearest tens of number of people, but would not be expressed as an exact number, such as 86, unless each

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