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lnmpurdue

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am trying to find an external authoritative source such as this to help me create a standard for our organization. 

If I am abbreviating say $50,000 into a visualization, should it be $50K or $50k.  For that matter as well, should there be a space between the number and the K as well?

I would love to find the correct answer and any documentation that I can reference vs personal opinions.

Thanks everyone.
sfew

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Reply with quote  #2 
As far as I know, this is not addressed by any official standards. Instead, we rely on common practice. Both K and k are used, typically without a space between the number and the K. Keep in mind, however, that K, which stands for kilo, is not the only abbreviation for thousands that is used. The Roman numberal M is also sometimes used for thousands. When K is used for thousands, M is used for millions, but when M is used for thousands, MM is used for millions. The fact that M can represent either thousands or millions invites confusion. At a minimum, we should be careful to pick one set of abbreviations, either K and M or M and MM, and use it consistently. An international standard would be useful, but apparently does not exist.
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Stephen Few
danz

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Reply with quote  #3 
lnmpurdue,

Usually a small note showing "x 1,000$" or "x 1,000,000€" saves your audience from any guess. This kind of note can be used in titles of a graphical display, in the labels of column tables or in chart axis descriptions.

Otherwise, I prefer (K, M, B, T) abbreviations, which seems to be widely accepted. As Stephen said, in finance M is the abbreviation used for thousands and MM for millions, which I personally avoid (if I have a choice).
p3k

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Reply with quote  #4 
in fact there is an international standard – as long as the metric system is considered scientifically and internationally accepted.

https://www.bipm.org/en/publications/si-brochure/chapter3.html

the answer would be a lower-case k then.
sfew

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Reply with quote  #5 
p3k,

As you suggest, a set of guidelines would only qualify as international standards if they are both known and agreed to internationally. It's not obvious to me that this is the case with these standands. Besides, these standards don't seem to address the issue that we're discussion. Instead, the abbreviation "k" that's addressed in these standards is merely presented as an abbreciation for "kilo." It does not say that one should use "k" when expressing a number as thousands.

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Stephen Few
p3k

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Reply with quote  #6 
i don’t see any obstacle to consider the si resolutions as de-facto standard having world-wide acceptance of the scientific community:

Quote:
The guideline produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) clarifies language-specific areas in respect of American English that were left open by the SI Brochure, but is otherwise identical to the SI Brochure(Source)


regarding your latter argument: at first i was confused by your statement “is merely presented as an abbreviation for kilo” because kilo is literally the greek word for “thousand” (from χίλιοι) .

according to si resolution 12 “(…) the names of multiples and submultiples of the units are formed by means of the following prefixes”.

thus, in fact, the idea seems to be these prefixes (as the name suggests) are always bound to a unit (like meter, gram, ampere etc.) – not considered to be used stand-alone.

Quote:
3.1 SI Prefixes: (…) Prefix symbols can neither stand alone nor be attached to the number 1, the symbol for the unit one.


as the op asked about formatting a currency unit ($) we might be in a gray area here. 50k$ could be an option – but then again, shouldn’t be the dollar unit leading the amount? bummer.

at least, the si brochure gives a precise answer regarding the spacing between number and letter:

Quote:
5.3.3 Formatting the value of a quantity: (…) a space is always used to separate the unit from the number.


[slide_7]

looking further, i found this tex thread with a similar question:

https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/212991/prefix-with-no-unit-with-siunitx

in terms of having a so-called dimensionless quantity, what do you think about the scientific notation – 6.72×10⁹ – or the e-notation – 6.72e10 – for plain numbers?

in a visualization one would most likely have rounded integers like 1e10³, 1e10⁶, 1e10⁹ then. would that work?
sfew

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Reply with quote  #7 
p3k,

The SI standards document that you referenced merely provides abbreviations for expressing powers of 10 (deca or da for 10 to the power of 1, hector or h for 10 to the power of 2, kilo or k for 10 to the power of 3, etc.). It does not specifically address the issue of abbreviating numbers as we often do to decrease their size for convenience in graphs. None of the descriptions or examples on the page of the standards document that you referenced address this issue. Perhaps the document addresses this elsewhere, but it doesn’t do so here. Even if it did, it would not work to express the value 500 as 5h (as in hecto). This would not be understood. Keep in mind that our discussion here is about abbreviating numbers in a way that will be clearly understood. Even if the SI scientific standards addressed this issue specifically, the abbreviations that it suggests would not apply when communicating to those outside of the scientific community. In fact, I would argue that even most people in the scientific community are not familiar with these terms and their abbreviations.

The image that you attached to your recent post is not a standards document. Even if it were, notice that the abbreviations in this image and even the spellings of the terms do not always match those that appear in the SI standards document.

Back to our original discussion, there are no clear and commonly agreed upon standards that are followed for abbreviating numbers, certainly not for general purposes.

Regarding scientific notation, such as 6.72×10⁹ or the e-notation 6.72e10⁹, I avoid it altogether outside of scientific publications because few people understand it.

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Stephen Few
sfew

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Reply with quote  #8 
For purposes of general communication, I think that a practice along the lines of Dan's earlier suggestion usually makes sense. Although I have not always followed a consistent standard in my own work, for general audiences it probably makes sense to avoid the Greek terms and their abbreviations (kilo or k, et.) altogether. In a graph, we can always explicitly and clearly state that the numbers have been expressed as thousands, millions, billions, and so on. When doing so, for the sake of clarity it usually makes sense to avoid abbreviated numbers as multiples of ten less than one thousand (i.e., avoid tens and hundreds), in part because the numbers are fairly small and don't need to be abbreviated, and also to avoid multiples of ten that don't have distinct names (e.g., after a thousand, skip over ten thousand and a hundred thousand directly to a million, from a million skip over ten million and a hundred million directly to a billion, and so on).
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Stephen Few
danz

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Reply with quote  #9 

p3k,

Your references to International System of Units (SI) made me curious and I had a quick look on the provided links. 

Any standard that is accepted for our audience can and definitely should be used to choose the right unit of measure (multiple or subdivision) to display values. That choice suppose to cover the required precision for the given context. We will definitely choose metric tons instead of kilograms when the values require so. When we do this we don't need any numbers abbreviation, we just use the right unit of measure and the required numbers precision. 

In economics, a currency is indeed considered a unit of measure, but do you really think that SI prefixes apply well to currencies? One megadollar sounds a bit funnier than one million dollar, doesnt it?  When we need to display large monetary values we are stuck with the major currency unit and lnmpurdue question is about the abbreviation rules we may use for large numbers in this case. Number abbreviations have no standards as far as I know, only some common practice rules already mentioned above. 

Dan

p3k

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
The image that you attached to your recent post is not a standards document. Even if it were, notice that the abbreviations in this image and even the spellings of the terms do not always match those that appear in the SI standards document.


apologies; i assumed it was easily and obviously to be identified as rather humorous side note.

Quote:
One megadollar sounds a bit funnier than one million dollar, doesnt it?
 

i guess it does, but how much “a bit” is might vary mostly depending on your cultural background – probably more like a kilobit in one of the plenty countries that did not adopt the metric system.
;)

[image]
sfew

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Reply with quote  #11 
p3k,

Apologies for not catching onto your humor. Attempts at humor in written discussions such as this are easily missed. If we were having a face-to-face conversation instead, I would have no doubt noticed your mischievous smile.

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Stephen Few
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