For example, we want to show that something costs 17,000 CNY but we don't have much room to show that... would it be appropriate to show 17K CNY? Or is there another way to truncate the number?


2 Answers 2

  • Be consistent. If you use "n k" in one place, you should avoid using "n thousand" elsewhere.
  • Your break-off point is up to your good sense and the context of the situation. Reporting business executives' net worth makes sense to round to the nearest tenth of a million; reporting the weight of a product you may want to specify it's 2,125 grams and not just 2 kg.
  • Be aware of culture. Even within English this matters: 2 billion in America is 2,000,000,000,000; in the UK it's 2,000,000,000,000,000 (one order of magnitude in difference)!
  • When comparing similar numbers, use the same point of reference. I can't explain this any more succinctly than this example.

If you're looking for formatting rules, consider using Unicode's Common Locale Data Repository. They have (among many other things) rules for this for any number of languages and contexts, available in XML and JSON if you are going to implement it programmatically. To consult it, use this tool, click on the language code you want, and navigate to /numbers/decimalFormats/short. Here's what it offers for Canadian French (fr_CA):

"1000": "0.0 k",
"10000": "00 k",
"100000": "000 k",
"1000000": "0.0 M",
"10000000": "00 M",
"100000000": "000 M",
"1000000000": "0.0B",
"10000000000": "00B",
"100000000000": "000B",
"1000000000000": "0.0 T",
"10000000000000": "00 T",
"100000000000000": "000 T",

Compare that to Russian (ru):

"1000": "0.0 тыс",
"10000": "00 тыс",
"100000": "000 тыс",
"1000000": "0.0 млн",
"10000000": "00 млн",
"100000000": "000 млн",
"1000000000": "0.0 млрд",
"10000000000": "00 млрд",
"100000000000": "000 млрд",
"1000000000000": "0.0 трлн",
"10000000000000": "00 трлн",
"100000000000000": "000 трлн",

I'm a fan of Associated Press style, myself. If I recall, that means ¥17,000 would be fine, even ¥170,000, but you'd want to write out ¥17 million. If you write a script that automates this for the Web, share it far and wide. :)

¥17k (lowercase) works in a pinch (capital K means "carat"), but depending on the context I would consider a redesign to avoid confusion. (Also ¥17m for ¥17 million.) I've only seen abbreviated numbers used in print to provide a visual effect when labeling charts, for example.

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