In our application we have a number of views that display financial numbers. I am just trying to figure out what is the best way to display zero or no value. Is there a standard format.

Quote Number   Quote Date    Quote Amount   Taxes   Total Amount
1000           01-10-2012    $0.00          $0.00   $0.00
1001           01-11-2012    $100.00        $13.00  $113.00
1002           01-11-2012    $-             $-      $-

Is this the right way to display the information. In the above example $- represents no quote has been provided by this vendor and $0.00 means that the vendor will not charge anything for the job. There is a difference and this is a real scenario in our industry I am just wondering is this the right way to display these numbers or there is a standard format?

  • Can you have textual values?
    – Mervin
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 15:34
  • 2
    Not directly related to your question, but I suggest right aligning your values to make it easier for users to compare quotes. You might also consider removing the "$" symbols from the table data cells and adding " ($)" to the end of the table headings where appropriate.
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 16:27

2 Answers 2


There isn't a "correct" way of doing this, there are just common practices used by various groups. I suggest looking at applications that your target audience already use and see how they do it, that way you will be showing them what they are already used to.

However, you need to fix your alignment of your numbers. They should be aligned on the decimal point and not be left aligned.


The standard (or one of the standards, or a guideline) is to use an "en rule" (short dash) or an "em rule" (long dash). This is according to Wiley-Blackwell Style Guide - page 18. It should be a dash on its own rather than "$-".

You can see this in use on Google Finance here (column "Volume"). UK Government also uses this standard - see this document, page 4 (PDF page 5).

Otherwise, you could use textual representation, e.g. "no quote".

Here's a nice write-up on storing missing values: Zero vs. Missing

  • The links or your answer are broken Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 14:24

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