Numbers & Dates

Use these standards on B.C. government websites.

Numbers

Generally, write out numbers one through nine and use numerical figures for numbers 10 and up.

Always use numerical figures

  • For decimals
    • 4.5%
  • In tables of data
  • When referencing parts of a whole
    • Phase 1, Section 1, Grade 1, page 1, line 9
  • For money
    • 1,200 CAD

Don't use decimals unless a $ symbol is used

  • $10.80

When the number is four digits or longer, separate with commas rather than spaces or periods.

  • 1,352

Always write out the numbers at the beginning of a sentence:

  • Ten people attended the meeting.

For large numbers, use a combination of numerical figures and words:

  • 12 million

Always keep numbers and related words together on one line.

For phone numbers, use a hyphen to separate the last four digits only:

  • 604 660-4524
  • 1 877 432-5658

Write out the word percent in sentences and paragraphs, but use the % symbol in financial charts, tables, equations and calculations.

Don't use an apostrophe for plural numbers, including decades.

  • The 1980s were exciting
  • Give me all the 10s and 20s

Write out ordinal numbers, except in charts or tables. Don't use superscript.

  • First, second, third
  • 1st (not 1st)

Write out fractions that stand alone without a preceding whole number, unless the written form is long or the fraction is part of a technical measurement or calculation.

  • One-half of the people were registered
  • 5/32 inch

Measurements

Use the metric system for all measurements. Always use Canadian spelling and abbreviations for metric terms.

  • Metre is m
  • Kilometre is km
  • Kilogram is kg
  • Metric tonne is t
  • Hour is h
  • Celsius is C (the word Celsius and its symbol C are always capitalized)

If you're writing about a historical example, use the measurement system of the time.

  • The speed limit on the Lions Gate Bridge when it opened in 1938 was 15 miles per hour

If the number is spelled out, also spell out the metric term.

  • He walked three kilometres to the store

Use a space between the number and the symbol, except when writing temperatures.

  • 10 km (not 10km)
  • The weather was a sunny 23°C on Wednesday

Use a hyphen and spell out the metric term only when the metric quantity is an adjective.

  • A 10-kilogram sack

Years & Periods of Time

Dates

Avoid putting dates on information unless it’s important or the content expires.

Write out the full name of the month wherever possible. Use the first three letters of the month to abbreviate, except for March, April, May, June and July, which are never abbreviated.

Use these formats:

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
  • March 25, 2015
  • March 25

Write out days of week wherever possible. Abbreviate to the first three letters, with no punctuation.

  • Monday or Mon
  • Thu, Jan 1, 2015

Separate date ranges with an en dash.

  • June 1 – Dec 30
  • June 1 – December 30

Digital format for dates uses the international standard YYYY-MM-DD separated by hyphens.

  • 1973-12-20

For screen reading devices, it's best to separate date from time with a comma.

  • September 25, 2015, 1:30 pm

Use numerical figures when writing about decades.

  • The 1920s, the 1980s, the ‘80s, the mid-1960s

When writing about centuries, spell out the numbers one to nine and use digits for 10 and above.

  • The fifth century
  • The 19th century

Time

Hours with no minute time are written numerically with no zeros.

  • 9 am (not 9:00 am)

Hours with the minute time have a colon.

  • 9:45 pm

Write out noon and midnight. Don't write 12 noon or 12 midnight.

Don't use periods with or capitalize am and pm. Include a space after the number.

  • 9 am or 9 pm

A range of time is written using "to" in text, but with an en dash in invitations.

  • The reception is scheduled from 8 to 11 pm
  • Reception, 8–11 pm

A colon is used to separate hours, minutes and seconds, unless spelled out.

  • His official race time was 2:15:45
  • He took two hours 15 minutes and 45 seconds to cross the finish line

Capitalize Pacific, Atlantic and Newfoundland when the time zone is spelled out, but not mountain, central and eastern.

  • Pacific daylight time, mountain standard time

Time zones are abbreviated and capitalized when included as part of a clock time.

  • 10 am PST

When writing out a date and time, write the date first followed by a comma to separate the time. This ensures screen reading devices can read the date and time correctly.

  • Monday, July 1, 2015, 3:30 pm