I'm writing an application that will be showing negative numbers of units (as in shares of stock).

When showing negative numbers in currency, it's typical to display the it in parentheses, e.g. ($100).

We also need to display numbers of units of stock, but since these are not a currency, should they be displayed in parentheses, or with a minus sign? e.g. (100) or -100? While they're not currency, they are closely related to currency.

What would be the correct way to display these negative numbers of units? Is there a standard or is it up to the company to decide?

1 Answer 1


To the best of my knowledge, it's only currency that is conventionally displayed within parentheses in US English. All other quantities, however financially significant, are displayed with a leading minus.

There may be some locales where a different distinction is drawn, but for the most part I would expect either one or two formatting styles, based on whether the amount is directly valueable in money or rather represents some quantity or percentage of things.

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