Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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Rule on M and bn[edit]

I have to question whether this should be retained, at least in anything like the current form:

  • M (unspaced) or bn (unspaced) respectively may be used for "million" or "billion" after a number, when the word has been spelled out at the first occurrence (She received £70 million and her son £10M).<!-- This needs to be coordinated with text in units tables re nonuse of M (for 1000) MM, etc. -->


  1. It's inconsistent to use bn (lower-case) but M (capitalized).
  2. The bn abbreviation isn't all that frequently used in general-audience publications (mostly in financial news, which verges on specialist material).
  3. It's also not consistently given as bn but sometimes Bn or B; why are we advocating bn in particular? (Similarly, m is often used in real-world sources, especially ones not using metric units.)
  4. The fact that this use of M can be confused with M for 1000 is a problem.
  5. In both cases, mil. and bil. appear to be much more common in general-audience English; I would advocate that we switch to recommending these.
  6. "At the first occurrence" here is ambiguous. We mean "at the first occurrence in the same passage" or something to this effect, but it's going to be misinterpreted to mean that as long as million appeared in the lead, for example, that any other occurrence can be replaced with M, even if it's separated from million by 50K of article text.
  7. When we actually do want to use an abbreviation, there's no reason that the normal rules in MOS:ABBR shouldn't apply – i.e., do something like £10mil. (or £10M) at first occurrence, with {{abbr}}, regardless how recently we used million somewhere in the same page.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  05:34, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

This got archived before resolution, so I've unarchived it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:11, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
re 4. I can't conceive of a normal case where the Roman numeral "M" (=1000) could be confused with "M" = million = mega = 1,000,000. In the case quoted how could £10M be anything other than ten million quid? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 21:59, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
Do we care? If seven rationales for a change are provided and one is weak, and there are no counter-rationales, then the change should probably proceed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:06, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
Well if you want all reasons addressed:
  1. bn is an abbreviation of "billion", but M is widly understood as the SI unit "Mega" with international abbreviation "M". With all due deference to the bullet below, use of "M" and "k" in finance is a long-lost battle. It would be difficult to find someone who didn't understand £45k as a salary or $367k for a house.
  2. Umm, newspaper headlines are pretty general-audience.
  3. I've no problem with bn or Bn, though the former is to be preferred on stylistic grounds ("Bn" is neither a proper noun nor an initialism). B is widely understood to be "bytes". Probably not confused that often, but clearly sub-optimal. m may be incorrectly used in the real-world, but is clearly wrong (milli or possibly metres).
  4. As above.
  5. mil. as an abbreviation is seriously overloaded. Milli- and million may be discernible by context but do we need to require readers to pause to think? Likewise "military" is pretty standard.
  6. Agreed.
  7. Agreed.
Originally though you were asking whether a specific bullet point should be retained. The implication is retain or delete. However your point 5 implies you wish to change it. Perhaps you could clarify:
  • Do you wish to delete it?
  • Do you wish to change it, and if so to what?
Regards, Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:57, 20 January 2018 (UTC)
My no. 5 makes it clear what I propose, I would think.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:54, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

Hyphens in mixed numbers[edit]

There are many hundreds of pages that have "was jailed for two-and-a-half years" or similarly (unnecessarily) hyphenated mixed numbers. The hyphens need to be removed. The manual says "Mixed numbers are usually given in figures", so my inclination is to change it to "was jailed for ​2 12 years". Would such a change bring howls of protest from editors who prefer something else, like "was jailed for two and a half years" or "was jailed for two and one-half years"? The manual does not cover the topic of hyphens or lack of hyphens in mixed numbers that are spelled out. If the number is adjectival, I think that "a two-and-a-half-year sentence" would be improved if changed to "a ​2 12-year sentence". Does anyone feel differently, or am I on the right track? Chris the speller yack 17:26, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

I think "was jailed for ​2 12 years" and "was jailed for two and a half years" both look and read fine. Just my opinion, FWIW. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:15, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
The path of least trouble that still fixes the problem is to keep words as words. EEng 18:22, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
That also avoids any ENGVAR issues (like 2.5 years). Primergrey (talk) 18:25, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure what ENGVAR issue you're talking about. Writing 2,5 is common in some countries, but as far as I know not in any English-speaking countries, which are the only ones that "count" for ENGVAR purposes.
Adventures in localization: I once was the main programmer for a numerical Windows application. As what I thought was a friendly gesture, I made it respect the locale that you had your computer set to. We got a complaint from a German user who was used to seeing decimal points, rather than commas, in "English software". I'd never thought of it as English software; it was numerical software. Oh well. We added an option so that the user could specify whether the program would respect the locale, or use the default "C" locale (the "C" locale uses decimal points). --Trovatore (talk) 21:56, 22 January 2018 (UTC)
I'm talking about ​2 12 for Americans, and 2.5 for everyone else. Primergrey (talk) 23:54, 22 January 2018 (UTC)
That doesn't make any sense to me. Americans understand 2.5 as well as anyone else. To me the distinction between ​2 12 and 2.5 is that ​2 12, in principle, is an exact number, whereas 2.5 is likely to be rounded to the nearest tenth. --Trovatore (talk) 00:44, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
Americans also understand favour as well as anyone else. Doesn't stop it from being a major sticking point, though. Primergrey (talk) 01:52, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, but Americans don't generally write "favour". They do write 2.5. I really don't know where you're coming up with this ENGVAR thing. I think you have some belief that is just false. --Trovatore (talk) 03:13, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
If I were to go to a well-trafficked article written in British English and add some relevant information about such-and-such a thing being "​2 12 metres high", it would be changed to "2.5 metres", with ENGVAR as the justification, faster than you can say "false belief". Primergrey (talk) 03:57, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, it could be that the Brits (incorrectly) think that it's an ENGVAR issue. But it isn't. No one would change it the other direction in an AmE article. --Trovatore (talk) 04:09, 23 January 2018 (UTC) Though of course they might change metres to meters. --Trovatore (talk) 04:10, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
It's an ENGVAR issue as soon as an ENGVAR edit is made. Incorrect or not. (I agree that it is, FWIW). Primergrey (talk) 04:25, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
Didn't Chris say he had what he needed? EEng 02:19, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
Thanks, all, for your thoughts and answers. Chris the speller yack 04:51, 18 December 2017 (UTC)

Please comment on Talk:International System of Units[edit]

The feedback request service is asking for participation in this request for comment on Talk:International System of Units. Legobot (talk) 04:28, 20 December 2017 (UTC)

Please comment on title of "watt" article[edit]

Should the title of the Watt article have an initial cap or not? If you care, please comment at Talk:Watt. Kendall-K1 (talk) 19:35, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

I'm positive we went over this within the last two years. Dicklyon? EEng 19:46, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Sounds vaguely familiar. I suggest treat it like any other common noun. Dicklyon (talk) 03:32, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

RfC on use of "crore"[edit]

Presently, MOS:NUMS includes:

Sometimes, the variety of English used in an article may necessitate the use of a numbering system other than the Western thousands-based system. For example, the South Asian numbering system is conventionally used in South Asian English. In those situations, link the first spelled-out instance of each quantity (e.g. crore, which yields: crore).

This is followed by three more bullet points of WP:CREEP about crore. The lead sentence of this is just patently false; nothing necessitates the use of alternative numbering systems. Proof that Indian English doesn't do so abounds (including with regard to Indian currency) [1], [2], [3], [4] etc., etc.

I propose that this be deleted and replaced with a) short advice against use of crore in Wikipedia articles, unless conversion is provided to Western numbers, and b) retaining the advice against using "1,00,00,000" for "10,000,000".

Rationale: I do not believe the present wording has actual consensus, and crore are rarely used in our articles even on Indian subjects. Some small number of Indian editors have somehow gotten MoS to be permissive about crore, despite it being non-English and meaning nothing to most anyone outside that part of the world, and despite English-speakers of India having no problem with "ten million" (or "10,000,000", "10mil", "10M", etc.)
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:08, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

Comments on crore[edit]