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Currency - USD - Does it come before or after the number?
Thread poster: Heather Walker (X)

Heather Walker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
German to English
+ ...
Mar 11, 2015

Regarding the issue of how to write the abbreviation for U.S. dollars, a style manual from a certain translation agency states "if a currency abbreviation is used, it should be placed before the number and a non-breaking space should be inserted to separate it from the amount." However, my natural inclination, being born and raised here in the U.S., is to write the letters after the number. I decided to Google it, and found what appears to be some debate on this topic.

Today, in negotiating with an agency, I noticed that the representative was writing the letters in front of the number (USD .xx per word), while I was writing the letters behind the number (.xx USD per word.) Do you think I should switch it up, for the sake of seeming more professional?

Right now, I am thinking that I should use the dollar symbol when corresponding with individuals and companies here in the U.S., and I should use the format USD .xx when corresponding with those outside of the U.S.

I apologize if this has already been covered, or if I should have posted this in a different place.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 08:35
Romanian to English
+ ...
in official documents for the DOJ Mar 11, 2015

we were instructed to write ”USD” AFTER the amount, not before.

best,
Lee


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Oxford says before Mar 11, 2015

So that's what I do, unless instructed otherwise. I never, ever use the dollar sign alone. I suppose it's OK within the US, but there's the AUD, the CAD and quite a number of others.

 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 20:35
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Abbreviation Mar 11, 2015

I treat the abbreviation the same as I would treat its expanded form.

 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Others Mar 11, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

So that's what I do, unless instructed otherwise. I never, ever use the dollar sign alone. I suppose it's OK within the US, but there's the AUD, the CAD and quite a number of others.


Indeed. In the Dominican Republic, they use the dollar sign for Dominican pesos. I don't know if it's similar in the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.


 

Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:35
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
OANDA currency converter's practice Mar 11, 2015

Hmmm. I've always put it before, because that's where the dollar sign goes (i.e., $XXX.XX), but I see that the OANDA currency converter puts it after.

See http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/


 

Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:35
Chinese to English
Ask the client Mar 11, 2015

I've seen both. If not instructed otherwise I usually put 'USD' after the number, but I have one agency client that wants it put first (actually they want this for all currencies).

 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 08:35
Romanian to English
+ ...
different rules Mar 12, 2015

rules in Europe : http://publications.europa.eu/code/en/en-370303.htm

http://www.translationdirectory.com/article167.htm

It seems that the correct way is the symbol first and the number next, unless the client requests differently.

Lee


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 20:35
Chinese to English
Possibly Brit/American? Mar 12, 2015

My instinct is to put it before, and looking at this thread I wonder if there's a Brit/American difference in practice. Certainly both are out there, and I don't think either is more professional than the other. Go with whatever the client wants.

 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:35
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
style guides Mar 12, 2015

I don't know much about the US.
Certainly in Britain, the currency abbreviation or symbol comes before the amount, while the spelled out form comes after the amount.

This is established both in common usage and stated in the major style guides - Sheila pointed to Oxford above, this is also true for the Guardian, Economist, EU interinstitutional and Unesco style guides.
The latter is probably the only one applicable to the US. You can find it here on page 32: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001418/141812e.pdf

In Germany, the currency always comes after the word, regardless of format. So obviously differences exist. However, since I only really deal with British English, I am unsure whether this is country-specific or language specific.

[Edited at 2015-03-12 06:10 GMT]


 

RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
German to English
Before the number Mar 12, 2015

That agency’s style guide is correct: in English (regardless of the variant), three-letter ISO codes should be placed before the number, exactly as you would do with currency symbols such as $ and €. It’s a good idea to use a non-breaking space after ISO codes to prevent them breaking over lines, but it’s not an immutable rule. There are no spaces after currency symbols, of course.

As dianaft points out, the German convention is the other way round, but that applies to a lot of things. Think of word ordericon_smile.gif

Ultimately though, how you write currencies in your own correspondence is your own affair. What’s important is to get them right in your translations.


 

Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 14:35
English to German
+ ...
I think Mar 12, 2015

It is not important whether USD or $, and whether before or after, because there can be no misunderstanding.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
USD 00.00 Mar 12, 2015

Heather Walker wrote:
However, my natural inclination, being born and raised here in the U.S., is to write the letters after the number. ... I noticed that the representative was writing the letters in front of the number (USD .xx per word), while I was writing the letters behind the number (.xx USD per word.).


I write:
USD 12.34
CAD 12.34
AUD 12.34
US $12.34
Can $12.34
Aus $12.34

To me, "12.34 USD" or ".12 USD" would seem odd... or... something that one might expect of Americans (no offence intended).

I also always write at least one digit before the decimal sign, e.g. "0.12", not just ".12", but that may be because I'm South African (where, incidentally, we're supposed to use a decimal comma).

The only way that writing "USD" after the numbers would make me happy would be "$12.34 (USD)".



[Edited at 2015-03-12 10:51 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-03-12 10:51 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Dianaft Mar 12, 2015

dianaft wrote:
Certainly in Britain, the currency abbreviation or symbol comes before the amount, while the spelled out form comes after the amount.


Do you mean the spelled out form comes after the amount even if no currency symbol is used before the amount, or only when?


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Redundancy to be avoided Mar 12, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

dianaft wrote:
Certainly in Britain, the currency abbreviation or symbol comes before the amount, while the spelled out form comes after the amount.


Do you mean the spelled out form comes after the amount even if no currency symbol is used before the amount, or only when?


Samuel, do you mean that someone would write "$100 dollars"? That would mean "dollars 100 dollars". Why would anyone introduce such redundancy? Or did I misunderstand you?

Samuel Murray wrote:
US $12.34
Can $12.34
Aus $12.34


Here is what my Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors says:


dollar mark $, to be before, and close up to, the figures, as $50. Various dollars should be differentiated as $A (Australian), $CAN (Canada), $HK (Hong Kong), $US


I.e. "$US", not "US $" if this guide is right.

However, they don't mention the 3-letter ISO codes like GBP and USD.


 
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