RG Grainger
Written Work Guides
Guide to Drafting a Manuscript
Guide to being Lead Author of a Paper
Check-list for Submitted Reports, Papers and Theses
A Brief Guide to Style
    Writing Style
    Spelling & Grammar
    Abbreviations & Acronyms
    Numbers & Units
    Tables & Figures
    Latex Tips
Grainger Falls

Numbers and Units



For decimals less than one use a leading zero.

0.27 not .27

Figures or Words

  • Generally spell out numbers below ten.
  • Use figures with all abbreviated forms of units.
  • Never start a sentence with a figure. To avoid spelling out large numbers recast the sentence.


For a span of numbers use an en rule, eliding to the fewest number of figures possible.

0–1, 132–6

Do not elide numbers in the group 10 to 19.

13–16, 1213–18.


Provided it is not non-dimensional a value in the text must have its associated unit.


Use a full space between a value and the unit. Separate components of the unit with a thin space.

9.87 m s-1 (9.87\ m\,s$^{-1}$)

A common latex mistake is to include the unit while still in math mode.

$9.87\ m\,s^{-1}$ typesets the unit in italics which is wrong


The degree symbol is printed close up to the scale abbreviation when given.

15 °C (15\ $^{\circ}$C).

In non-technical writing the scale is sometimes omitted in which case the degree symbol is printed close up to the number.

15° (15$^{\circ}$)

Values in Kelvin do not include a degree sign.

27 K (27\ K) not 27 °K

Latitude and Longitude

The degree, minute and second symbols are printed close up to the number.

36° N, 155° 13’ 10” W


Do not use a solidus to indicate 'per'.

9.87 m s-1 (9.87\ m\,s$^{-1}$) not 9.87 m/s

Earth Observation Data Group, Department of Physics, University of Oxford. Page last updated: @21:16 GMT 03-Jan-2015