Abbreviation of number - N, N°, Nr, Nbr, No?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Fede_F, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. Fede_F Member

    North Italy
    Italian, Italy

    which is the correct abbreviation of "number"?


  2. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK

    that is how we do it in the UK.
  3. sazza Member

    English, Australia
    And in Oz, too.
    ''No. 2 Is up next''
    Not sure if it's universal but you can also use the symbol #
  4. Fede_F Member

    North Italy
    Italian, Italy
    Thank you both Sally and Sazza for the quick answer.

    Sazza, what's Oz?

  5. sazza Member

    English, Australia
    Australia! (Oztralia)
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello and welcome, Fede F:)

    You will find that different countries, and indeed different organisations, have different abbreviations.

    ... are commonly used - based on the Latin numero (from numerus, number).

    In AE, # is often used and so is often found in places where AE-speak is understood. Members here would refer to post #23 for example.
  7. aprentice Senior Member

    Barcelona- Spain
    Spanish, Catalan
    Hi all,

    Is it correct to say “Nbr. of projects”, or “Nbr. of problems”?

    If not, which would be the right way to write "the contraction of the word number”?

    Thanks much!
  8. edval89 Senior Member

    Boston, MA
    United States/English
    I've never seen "Nbr." be used. The correct abbreviation for number is "No."
  9. aprentice Senior Member

    Barcelona- Spain
    Spanish, Catalan
    Thanks much edval89 :)
  10. idialegre Senior Member

    Hamburg, Germany
    USA English
    The abbreviation "No." is used only in front of an actual number, e.g.,

    Paragraph No.7
    Husband No. 2

    If you are using the word "number" as a regular noun, it cannot be abbreviated.

    The number of projects...
    A large number of problems...
  11. aprentice Senior Member

    Barcelona- Spain
    Spanish, Catalan
    Idialegre, Then Ican not be write:

    No. of projects, No. of problems, etc?? :O
  12. tomandjerryfan

    tomandjerryfan Senior Member

    English (Canada)
    Yes you can, depending on the type of document. I wouldn't suggest you use abbreviations in formal writings, but in tables, graphs, etc., abbreviations are acceptable.
  13. aprentice Senior Member

    Barcelona- Spain
    Spanish, Catalan
    ok, thanks to you all, I got now the idea.
  14. Lalina_07

    Lalina_07 Member

    Argentina - Español
    Has anyone ever seen it abbreviated this way
  15. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    No, not until I read this post!
  16. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Panjandrum, does that mean that "#" is not a common symbol for number in the British isles? (and yes, "No. 5" would be readily understood to mean "Number 5" in the US)
  17. JeffJo Senior Member

    USA, English
    I have seen both "Nbr." and "Nr." used, both only very rarely.
  18. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In many UK contexts #, meaning number, would have to be explained. Those of us more exposed to US culture - either comic strips or IT manuals - have come to understand the US #, and it also seems to pass without comment in this forum.
  19. prinjon Senior Member

    Near Paris
    French from Paris area
    Maybe because at least In Europe but I assume it is the case worldwide now that you use the # symbol when you have to enter a number on your mobile. Thus no doubt now everyone knows it means naturally number.

    But only official abbreviation is no. (from Latin). <Moderator note: References to abbreviations in languages other than English have been removed. This English Only forum deals only with English usage.>
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2009
  20. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, 'Nbr' or 'Nr' would just look 'foreign' (German, etc.).

    N° would also be understood, but would also look 'foreign' (French, etc.).
  21. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The regular use of # for number in some BE contexts long precedes the introduction of mobile phones/ cell phones.
    It's rather an aside, but I never use the # key for this purpose on my phone.
    There is no single official abbreviation. There are various conventions/standards.
  22. Ann O'Rack Senior Member

    UK English
    If you listen to automated instructions telling phone users what button to press you will often hear 'that' key called "the hash key" in the UK or "the pound key" in the US.

    I would use "no." as an abbreviation usually, but as Panj says, there isn't a single convention. What I would advise is that, whichever convention you choose to use, you make sure you use it consistently.
  23. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    One of those little snippets of trivia that you'll probably never need unless setting a wager in a pub is that the "#" is also called an octothorp - name coined by Bell Labs in the U.S. in 1973.
  24. CanuckPete Member

    Toronto, Canada
    English - Canada
    Another thing about the # symbol, in some places it is referred to as 'the number symbol', 'the pound key' (when referencing a telephone key pad), or a 'hash key' (again, when referencing a telephone key pad).

    In English Canada, # is far more common; but, N° is understood and seen often because it is preferred in French Canada.

    Is there an alt-key short-cut for typing N°?
  25. gls5000 New Member

    English, UK
    A point that has not been touched upon here is whether the abbreviation "No." should be capitalised:

    My tax registration no. is xxx OR
    My tax registration No. is xxx

    To me the capitalised No. looks messy but some proofreaders seem to insist on it.
  26. The abbreviation is not used in that context. It would have to be "My tax registration number is XXXX".
  27. gls5000 New Member

    English, UK
    I'm not sure about that. Obviously it's just lazy and bad style to write, for example, "a no. of people attended", but in set expressions like telephone no., VAT no., serial no., etc. it is indeed used as an abbreviation in some styles (e.g. some legal docs and technical docs). And in those circumstances I would still be interested to hear some opinions about whether one would use "No." or "no." if found in the middle of a sentence.
  28. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In the situations gls describes I would write No. or no. depending on whether I would write in full Number or number.
    ... Serial Number ... -> ... Serial No. ...
    ... registration number ... -> ... registration no. ...
  29. puttputt New Member

    What is the abbreviation for "numbers"? For instance, I need to write "U.S. Pat. No. x,xxx,xxx; x,xxx,xxx; x,xxx,xxx". Should the abbreviation for "Numbers" be "No." or "Nos."?
  30. In BrE we use Nos.
  31. konung Member

    Russian & English (American Midwest)
    From wikipedia:

  32. wordharmony New Member

    Chablis, France
    English - British
    Is there a space between the dot and the number itself?
    this brand holds the no.1 market position
    this brand holds the no. 1 market position

  33. konung Member

    Russian & English (American Midwest)
    I think it's personal preference, but I wouldn't put a space in between, simply to eliminate any doubt that there is a number missing in between, similar how you wouldn't leave a space between a negative indicator and number : -5 ( as in negative 5).
  34. konung Member

    Russian & English (American Midwest)
    Also to add to this in case you think someone might confuse this for a decimal number, like 0.1 - there is not worry about it, since No. usually means that you are referring to a whole number. As in room No.23. But again I think it's just a personal preference.
  35. Stonefeather New Member

    In American English, # can stand either for "number" or "pound" (the unit of weight). Most commonly, it is the former meaning that is meant, except when referring to the # key on a telephone. In that case, you will find (at least in the USA) that automated voice menus accessed by telephones will sometimes direct you to "press the pound key," though here it has nothing to do with weight. (I suspect the name for the key was chosen to avoid the inevitable confusion that "press the number key" would cause.)

    Note that when abbreviating [No.], it is usually capitalized, since it is only used with a specific number, as mentioned in an earlier post; also, that the period should not be omitted, even informally (to avoid causing the reader to pause over the ambiguity with the word "no").
  36. Nicosito Senior Member

    French and UK English, ferpectly bilingual
    "N° would also be understood, but would also look 'foreign' (French, etc.)."

    Is "N°" actually incorrect in English? Does anybody know?


  37. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I've never seen it before, and I wouldn't know what it meant but for this thread. I don't know if it's incorrect, but it's certainly not universally understood.
  38. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    Unlike those used in some other languages, American keyboards don't include either a superior lower-case "o" (º) or "Nº" together as a single character. I don't think keyboards for other English-speaking countries do either, even though there are some variations from the American keyboard (such as inclusion of "£").

    That suggests that "Nº" has never been used in English-speaking countries as an abbreviation for "Number" or anything else. I happen to know how to use an "º" in Windows but many Americans who know more about computers and data processing than I do not know how to do this, and in any case it requires extra keystrokes. It's a lot like inverted question marks and exclamation points (¿¡), which English doesn't use either.

    Therefore, whether a particular reader whose native language is English will understand "Nº" to mean "number" is a chancy business. Those with extensive experience with the languages where it is used will recognize it, and some might figure it out from the context, but when writing in English it would be better to employ a more widely understood abbreviation, rather than to insist on one from one's native language.

    There seem to be some differences between British and American English in the most common abbrevation for "number," as described earlier in this thread.
  39. Nicosito Senior Member

    French and UK English, ferpectly bilingual
    Hi Pob14 and Fabulist,

    Thanks both.

    Yes, my UK keyboard doesn't have one either, making º a rare chance to use "insert/symbol" in Word which breaks the tedium a bit!

    I gather from your replies that it is probably correct to replace the exotic "Nº" with a bog-standard "No." in translating texts from other languages. No means no!


  40. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Happy New Year, Nicholas/Nico!

    As others have said, it is not common, but I wouldn't say it is incorrect. It might suggest foreignness - or it might suggest old fashion. There was the tradition of raising the last letter of a contraction, as in this sign for Abbey Rd (note the raised, underscored D). I've also seen Nº in this kind of context.
  41. Winston Fisher New Member

    To me, "No." is most typical. "Nr." is used by German speaking Dutch. Additional one not mentioend is "No", which was commonly used on printed forms in the old days for trades.
  42. SilviaVirus New Member

    Português - Brasil
    << ..."N°. on the map." or "No on map." ... >>

    What is the best phrase in English ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2012
  43. Franco-filly Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - Southern England
    The standard abbreviation of "number" is "No."
    p.s. Welcome to the forum SilviaVirus;)
  44. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    Please clarify the nature of your question, SilviaVirus. :)

    And of course, Welcome to the Forum! :)
  45. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Welcome, SilviaVirus. Not to anticipate your clarification, but just a general comment about No vs .

    As No can easily be confused with the word "no", it's generally best to include the stop: "No." (even these days, when it's acceptable to write many abbreviations without stops). The disadvantage with that is that the stop tends to break the sentence, as the eye may see it initially as a full stop after the word "No".

    Personally I prefer , as it avoids all possible confusion.

  46. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Is this about a phrase such as "The memorial is shown as No. 5 on the map?" In that case, the number after the abbreviation would clarify that "No" (if one does not use the period, BE stop or full stop) is short for "number," not the word "no." Still, this is a place where the U.S. practice of putting periods after all abbreviations can be helpful.

    I'd consider the form with the little raised "o" to be archaic in English, though it's still used in other languages. I might expect to see it in a nineteenth-century account book in an antique store, but not in anything written in the present century.
  47. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I don't think I've ever so much as seen it - except in one of those antique manuscripts. I guess I could figure out what it meant if it was followed by a number ("N° 1"), but it would certainly make me look twice. I would not recommend it.
  48. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    I agree that 'No.' is the British abbreviation. I don't remember ever encountering a situation where it could be confused with the word 'no'. I would always include '.'

    So: "No. on map."
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
  49. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Mod note: Silvia's thread (post 42 onwards) has been merged with an earlier thread. Please read the earlier posts for more on the abbreviation for 'number'.

    Welcome to the Forum, Silvia! :)
  50. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Judging by the reactions of others, particularly AmE-speakers, it seems that "N°" isn't universally accepted. Perhaps I've been influenced by my exposure to French usage.

    I agree with Biffo that you'd be unlikely to confuse "No." with the word "No" once you think about it. But I do occasionally experience a split-second hesitation when reading a sentence with "No.", particularly if there's a space between it and the following number:
    - "He said No. 13 is unlucky".

    Apparently I'm not entirely alone in that:
    However the problem is considerably reduced by omitting the space.
    - "He said No.13 is unlucky".


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