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Spaces and units: survey results
Author : Cathy Relf
Posted : 20 / 05 / 14
Last week, in our post on units and spaces, we asked you to take a short survey. We’re delighted to report that 130 people did – and here are the results.
Overall, most of you were in favour of closing up the number and unit, with four fifths preferring ‘1.75cm’ to ‘1.75 cm’. However, this wasn’t the case across the board. With some units, such as kcal, more than half (57 per cent) of you preferred to include a space. This may be because we are used to seeing it with a space on food packaging.
Those who described themselves as working mainly for media (20 per cent) were far more likely to want to close up the number and unit in all instances, while those who said they wrote mainly for academia (4 per cent) were more likely to want to leave a space in all instances. Those who wrote mainly for business (80 per cent) were more mixed, but tended towards not leaving a space.
So, while there are some quite strict formatting rules within the scientific and academic communities, which say to leave a space in almost all instances, it seems that many people outside of those communities actually prefer not to.
Both styles are fine, but it’s a good idea to be consistent within your organisation, so we recommend deciding on a preference and adding it to your house style guide. If you don’t have one, you can talk to us about tailoring our style guide The Write Stuff to your organisation’s needs.
1. Would you write ‘the table is 1.75cm wide’ or ‘the table is 1.75 cm wide’?
2. Would you write ‘then add 7oz of flour’ or ‘then add 7 oz of flour’?
3. Would you write ‘the car was travelling at 80mph’ or ‘the car was travelling at 80 mph’?
4. Would you write ‘one slice of cheese on toast contains 150kcal’ or ‘one slice of cheese on toast contains 150 kcal’?
5. We asked you what kind of writing you usually do, and you answered:
We also asked you for your nationality, but as 89 per cent of those who answered were British, we don’t have enough data about the other nationalities (which included Indian, Swiss, Dutch, South African, American, Canadian, Irish and Australian) to draw any conclusions about national preferences.
Cathy is a certified word and editing expert, having worked as a sub-editor, editor and copywriter at, to name a few, the Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Which? and The Grocer.
Posted by: Catie Holdridge
21 / 07 / 20
Training is only worthwhile if it works. It needs to do far more than simply let you tick a box. That’s why we’re proud that the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) has named us in their list of the highest-performing learning providers for the third time since 2018. Since 1995, the LPI has been evaluating, […]
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