How Do You Place Rational Numbers in Order From Least to Greatest on a Number Line?

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Rational numbers are any numbers that can be expressed by a fraction with integers in both the numerator and the denominator. The amount of time and paper it takes to put them into an increasing line depends on how many numbers there are and how big of a range they have.

  1. Rewrite improper fractions

    An improper fraction is a fraction with a bigger numerator than denominator. These numbers can be difficult to compare. For example, numbers such as 26/7, 31/9, 12/5, 8/3 and 22/13 do not have an obvious highest or lowest term. Rewrite improper fractions as mixed numbers or as numbers with decimals. To turn an improper fraction into a decimal, divide the numerator by the denominator. If the denominator is large or a prime number greater than five, use a calculator. For example, divide the numbers 26/7, 31/9, 12/5, 8/3 and 22/13 to create 3.71, 3.44, 2.4, 2.67 and 1.69.

  2. Find the highest and lowest terms

    Figure out where your number line starts and ends. Put the lowest term on the far left and the highest term on the far right. Remember, negative numbers are lower than positive numbers, and the greater a negative number’s distance from zero, the lower it is.

  3. Mark benchmark terms

    Draw a line extending through your lowest and highest points. Figure out some major points between these values and mark them on your line. For example, if your lowest number is negative 25 and your highest number is 50, find where zero and 25 would be. Mark these as benchmarks or guides.

  4. Fill in the remaining numbers

    Using your guides, fill in the rest of the numbers. Start with the lowest values on the left and work your way up.