Numbers

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Get it right when it counts

We usually use numerals (1, 2, 3, and so forth) instead of spelling out the number.

When representing specific statistics or examples, use numerals for all numbers up to a billion even if at the beginning of the line or sentence.

Spell out casual expressions (example: You’re one in a million).

Spell out ordinal numbers (“first”) up to and including “ninth” when indicating sequence or location (except in geographic, military, or political names). Use figures starting with 10 (example: He was second in the match, but 12 in the tournament.).

In marketing and some long-form content (like blogs), there are variations. You can find out about these and other guidelines here.

Use numbers for the following:

  • Percentages (12%, 0.4%)
  • Groups (1 of 10 groups)
  • Ratios (ratio of 2 to 1)
  • Decades (the 1980s, ’80s)
  • Age for people and animals, but not things (example: An 8-year-old girl; A girl, 2 months old; A five-year-old tax law).

Different languages format numbers differently. We call out some of the differences. To make sure we format numbers appropriately, work with regional content designers.

Examples

  • We gathered insights from 6,058 individuals in 20 mid-market cities in the UK.
  • That one photo generated thousands of comments.
  • First, enter your email address.
  • 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • $500M
  • $20B
  • $25K

Abbreviating the word "number"

The preferred abbreviation for number is “no.” with a period.

Don’t use # in place of the word number unless there are significant space restrictions, such as in a mobile screen.

Check with regional content designers for acceptable abbreviations in specific countries. For example, n° is the accepted abbreviation in France.


Bold numbers

You can use bold to highlight user interface elements such as numbers in instructional text. Don’t use it just for emphasis.

Use only one treatment at a time (color, bold, italics, indentation). If the ghost text in a form field is already italicized or a distinct color, don’t make it bold too.

Examples

  • In the Search field, enter lmnop.qrs.
  • Enter this validation code: JFI129-XMW8R-32U47.

Currency

For negative amounts, place the minus symbol in front of the currency symbol.

You can specify which country by adding the currency code after the amount if needed.

Examples

Australia

  • $25 (most common)
  • $25.00
  • -$25
  • AUD$25.00 (only when relevant e.g. comparing overseas prices)

Brazil

Leave a space between the currency symbol and the amount, and use a comma to separate Brazilian reais and cents.

  • R$ 25 // R$ 25,50
  • R$ 1.234,50

Canada and US

Don’t add a space between the currency symbol and the amount ($10.00, not $ 10.00).

If you’re displaying currency in dollars and the amount is less than one dollar, use the cents symbol. Example: 25¢. It helps with accessibility and clarity. But if you’re presenting this in product (as in entry fields), it should be 0.25 with no cents symbol.

  • $25.00
  • 50¢
  • $25.00 CAD (in cases where multiple local currencies are supported–like a purchase on an international website)
  • $25.00 USD

France

Don’t add a space between the currency symbol and the amount.

  • €25
  • 25 euros
  • €25.50
  • €25 000.50

UK

Don’t add a space between the currency symbol and the amount.

£3.50
£100,000.00 (or just £100,000)


Dates

Don’t use ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) in dates.

For placeholder text in form fields, use lowercase letters (example: mm/dd/yyyy).

For month and year only, use Month yyyy.

Spell out days of the week when you’re referencing specific dates. Only abbreviate months in 3 letters (like Mar, Aug, Oct) for UI elements like tables, links, and footers.

In extreme space-constrained cases, 1-letter abbreviations are OK. Mobile uses 3-letter month abbreviations (for example, Mar 9).

For countries that use 12 h time, capitalize AM and PM with no periods.

To indicate a decade, add an “s” without an apostrophe (examples: 1970s, 1990s).

Examples

Australia

Use dd/mm/yyyy (without a leading zero) or dd Month, yyyy.

  • 31 January, 2007
  • 30/11/2018
  • 15 Mar
  • The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, 18 August at 9:00 PM AWT.

Brazil

Use dd/mm/yyyy (without a leading zero) or dd month, yyyy. Months are always lowercase.

  • 31 january, 2007
  • 30/11/2018
  • 15 mar
  • The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, 18 august at 9h.

Canada

Use: dd/mm/yyyy (without a leading zero) or Month dd, yyyy.

  • 11/11/2016
  • November 11, 2016
  • November 2016
  • Saturday, December 8
  • Mar 15
  • M-F, 7 AM to 9 PM, PT
  • The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, August 18 at 9:00 PM PT.

France

Use dd/mm/yyyy (without a leading zero) or dd Month, yyyy.

  • 15/06/2016
  • Wednesday, 3 November 2016
  • 14 November 2016
  • November 2016
  • 15 Mar
  • The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, 18 August at 9 h.

UK

Use dd/mm/yyyy, dd/mm, or dd Month, yyyy.

  • 31/08/2016
  • 31/08
  • 31 Aug
  • Sunday, 18 August, at 9 PM GMT.
  • The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, 18 August at 9 PM AWT.

US

Use: mm/dd/yyyy (without a leading zero) or Month dd, yyyy.

  • 3/9/2018
  • 11/11/2016
  • November 11, 2016
  • November 2016
  • Saturday, December 8
  • Mar 15
  • M-F, 7 AM to 9 PM, PT
  • The site will be down for maintenance on Sunday, August 18 at 9:00 PM PT.

Decimals

Carry decimals to the hundredth place (33.76).

Use decimals (0.75) instead of fractions.


Footnotes

Try not to use footnotes.

Asterisks and the footnotes that go with them slow readers down. You’re interrupting their train of thought and asking them to hunt for secondary information.

If you need to use footnotes, insert a number formatted in superscript at the end of the sentence. Corresponding footnotes live at the bottom of the page or screen.

If you need to cite legal copy, use footnotes when you’re citing more than one thing on the page. Don’t put the footnote in the middle of the sentence. Put it at the end instead. And don’t use multiple footnotes in one sentence.

Examples

  • Revel Systems was ranked #1 in Top Ten Reviews: http://pos-systems-review.toptenreviews.com/ipad/revel-systems-review.html
  • Access subject to Internet provider availability.
  • The #1 iPad POS—QuickBooks Point of Sale.¹ Clear business data anytime.²


ID numbers and sensitive data

To protect our users’ privacy, we mask some of their personal information.

  • Account numbers: Mask these numbers with ellipses.
  • Payment account numbers in emails: Mask all but the last four digits with one asterisk.
  • Social Security and other government ID: Mask with Xs.
  • Phone numbers: Mask with asterisks.
  • Email addresses: Mask with asterisks.

Your account number (…1234)
You paid from account *1234
Your Social Security number: XXX-XX-1234
Your Social Insurance number: XXX XXX 123
You gave us phone number ***-***-8437
We responded to your email at ca*******@gmail.com

XXXXXXXXXXXX1234
xxxx-1234
****1234
[NAME] 1234
[Name]-1234
● 1234
(1234)
x-1234


Numbers with commas

Use commas in numbers with four or more digits (example: $5,000).

But don’t use commas in error numbers, page numbers, or addresses.

Examples

  • 1,234.56 in English = 1 234,56 in French
  • Your profit rose 4,500%


Phone numbers

Phone numbers are formatted differently depending on the country. For all locales, include the area code, leave off the country code, and don’t bold anything. Follow the formats in these examples.

Examples

Australia

Use spaces in phone numbers. Leave off the +61 before the STD code and use “ext.” for extension if needed.

  • 04 1234 5678
  • 1234 5678 ext. 753
  • 0422 123 456 (mobile)

Brazil

Use dashes in most phone numbers and use a space to separate the area code. For 0800 numbers, use spaces. Use ramal for extension if needed.

  • 11 99999-5060
  • 3456-6070 ramal 234
  • 0800 047 4094

Canada

Use dashes in phone numbers. Leave out the 1 before the area code except for toll free numbers, and use “ext.” for extension if needed.

  • 123-456-7890
  • 123-456-7890 ext. 234
  • 1-888-829-8589 (toll free)

France

Use spaces between sets of 2 numbers and leave out the +33 before the number. For toll-free numbers, don’t use a space between the 4 digits.

  • 06 24 55 32 14
  • 0805 220 189 (toll free)

South Africa

Use spaces in phone numbers.

  • 010 203 4300

UK

Use spaces in phone numbers. Leave out the +44 before the area code.

  • 07986 123 456
  • 0300 123 4567 (for companies)
  • 7986 123 456 (mobile)

US

Use dashes in phone numbers. Leave out the 1 before the area code and use “ext.” for extension if needed.

  • 888-777-1234
  • 800-558-9558 ext. 1234

Time

When you’re talking about time zones within your target audience’s country, use these regional guidelines. If you’re talking about time zones outside that region (international, from the reader’s point of view), use 24 hour time with UTC offsets.

Examples

  • Singapore: UTC+6
  • New York: UTC-5

Australia, Canada, and US time

Express time as H:MM AM/PM time zone. Include a space before AM or PM, but no periods. Include minutes, even if it’s on the hour (for example, available from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM). Noon and midnight can be referred to as just that, or as 12 AM and 12 PM.

Abbreviate time zones within Australia, US, and Canada like this:

Pacific Time: PT
Eastern Time: ET
Central Time: CT
Mountain Time: MT
Australian Western Time: AWT
Australian Eastern Time: AET
Australian Central Time: ACT

Use abbreviations (PT, ET) when combined with a time reference (ex.: 5 AM PT).

Spell out “Eastern Time,” “Pacific Time,” and so forth, when standing alone without a time reference.

Note: To reduce maintenance and upkeep, we no longer refer to Standard/Daylight Time.

Examples

  • 8 AM PT
  • 11:00 PM ET
  • 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM AWT
  • 7:00-9:00 PM
  • noon
  • midnight

Brazil time

Use 24 hour time without time zones (assume everything will be in Brasilia time) and done leave a space between the number and the h. Noon (Meio-dia) and midnight (Meia-noite) can be referred to as just that, or as 12h and 24h.

Examples

  • 10h
  • 17h25
  • 17:25 (only when in a table, technical use, or departure board for trains/planes)
  • Meio-dia (noon)
  • Meia-noite (midnight)

France time

Use 24 hour time without time zones. (France has only 1 time zone.) Leave a space between the number and the h.

Examples

  • 13 h 15
  • 9 h
  • 09:00 (when in a table, technical use, or departure board for trains/planes)
  • 13:15 (when in a table, technical use, or departure board for trains/planes)

United Kingdom time

Use 12-hour times with periods instead of colons and no time zones.

Example

  • 1.45 PM

Units of measure

Leave a space between the number and the unit of measure and use open punctuation (no periods). Use a hyphen if you’re using the number with the unit of measure as an adjective.

For Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, and UK, use the metric system.

For the U.S., use the imperial system and provide metric equivalents in parentheses after the imperial measurement where it’s useful.

Examples

  • 50 km/h
  • 35 mph
  • 10 cm
  • 25 kg
  • 25 lbs
  • 8 fl oz
  • 10 mL
  • 128 MB of RAM
  • on hold for 3 minutes
  • 3.4-GHz processor
  • 2-day workshop
  • one inch (2.54 cm)