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The British abbreviations for million and billion

English translation: m and bn

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:The British abbreviations for million and billion
English translation:m and bn
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09:02 Jan 27, 2011
    The asker opted for community grading. The question was closed on 2011-01-31 08:54:10 based on peer agreement (or, if there were too few peer comments, asker preference.)


English to English translations [PRO]
Other
English term or phrase: The British abbreviations for million and billion
Which is the correct British abbreviation for million and billion?

1.2bn transactions or 1.2B transactions
1.2m transactions or 1.2M transactions
USD 5m or USD 5M
USD 5bn or USD 5B

I have a feeling that small m is British usage and capital m American, but I haven't been able to find solid proof. Maybe you can help me out?

Thanks in advance! ;-)
Barbara Østergaard Bernhard Jensen
Denmark
Local time: 14:29
m and bn
Explanation:
The correct abbreviations are bn and m, in small letters.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/about-us/style-book/143530...
Abbreviate million to m and billion to bn in headlines.
RELATED ARTICLES
Introduction 10 Jan 2008
In stories concerned mainly with money, company reports and City page references to bids and deals, use m and bn. In news stories as distinct from stories in the business section always write million and billion in full.
Selected response from:

Jeux de Mots
Germany
Local time: 14:29
Grading comment
Thank you very much, all of your, Jeux de Mots, mediamatrix and peers.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +6m and bn
Jeux de Mots
4 +5There is no one-size-fits-all rule
Robin Levey


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


14 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +6
the british abbreviations for million and billion
m and bn


Explanation:
The correct abbreviations are bn and m, in small letters.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/about-us/style-book/143530...
Abbreviate million to m and billion to bn in headlines.
RELATED ARTICLES
Introduction 10 Jan 2008
In stories concerned mainly with money, company reports and City page references to bids and deals, use m and bn. In news stories as distinct from stories in the business section always write million and billion in full.

Jeux de Mots
Germany
Local time: 14:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thank you very much, all of your, Jeux de Mots, mediamatrix and peers.
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks for your answer + link. What I haven't been able to find proof for is the claim that small letters are British usage, capital letters American usage. I have an American colleague who insists that using small letters is incorrect :-)


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  kmtext
6 mins
  -> Thanks ;-)

agree  Sharon Toh: Yes for British English usage; not sure about American English though.
11 mins
  -> Thank you Sharon. Yes, this is British, as per asker's request.

agree  Rachel Fell
35 mins
  -> Thank you Rachel

agree  xxxtrsk2000: British English, yes!
43 mins
  -> Thanks ;-)

agree  Goldcoaster
55 mins
  -> Thanks Goldcoater

agree  Jack Doughty: I would leave a space between the number and the abbreviation, i.e. 2 bn, not 2bn.
56 mins
  -> Thank you Jack. Funnily enough, my style guide states that there should be no space between the number and the abbreviation. Mediamatrix makes a very valid point;-)

agree  Polangmar
2 hrs
  -> Thanks Polangmar

disagree  Charlesp: See the discussion
1 day1 hr
  -> Thank you Charles. I'm not sure why you believe this answer is incorrect though.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
the british abbreviations for million and billion
There is no one-size-fits-all rule


Explanation:
The English language is unregulated, unlike French and Spanish, for example, which have academies who decide these things and (try to) impose them on an often unwilling population.

Hence, there is no-one to say what abbreviations are are 'correct', except where the prescriptors have full control over the texts as in the example given in Jeux de Mot's answer, or there is some overriding governing body whose prescriptions are imposed by law.

When authoring stuff for my own publications, I never abbreviate million or billion, except when referring to scientific units (where I follow the ISO rules, which have force of law in some areas of human endeavour, e.g. 'M' for mega = million, as distinct from 'm' for milli = thousandths), and in financial texts where my in-house style guide is atuned voluntarily to that of the Telegraph, with the space mentioned by Jack.

Summarising: there is no one-size-fits-all 'correct' solution.

Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 10:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Polangmar: The English language is unregulated, unlike... Polish which has language councils and normative dictionaries.
1 hr

agree  Jeux de Mots: You make a very valid point mediamatrix. Consistency is the only 'correct' solution, whichever of the recommendations you choose to follow.
2 hrs

agree  Jack Doughty
4 hrs

agree  Sharon Toh
15 hrs

agree  Charlesp: The document has to say Million and then the abbreviation (in paren) -- esp true for Billion - as 'billion' can meen different things in different countries.
23 hrs
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