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Numbers, dates and time
In running text, numbers are expressed in words or figures according to the guidelines set out below.
NumbersNumbers expressed in figures).
Numbers are always expressed in words:
All numbers may be expressed in words in isolated references to approximate measures and periods of time.
Numbers between 10 and 999,999 are normally written in figures, except as noted above.
The following are always expressed in figures:
In running text, numbers in the millions are written as follows: 1 million, 3.4 million.
The same rules apply to numbers in the billions and trillions. The term “billion” (French: milliard; Spanish: mil millón) is used in United Nations documents to mean a thousand million. The term “trillion” (French: billion; Spanish: billón) is used to mean a million million.
When two numbers occur together, they should be expressed in different styles, according to the nature of the elements and the context.
When two or more numbers to which different rules apply occur in a series in the same sentence, the rule applying to the higher or highest number applies to all.
When two numbers are used to indicate a range:
When linking two numbers, use the following forms:
To indicate a range of dates, use the following forms:
If the unit of the range is represented by a symbol, the symbol is always repeated.
If the unit is written out or abbreviated, it is given only once, after the second number.
Ordinal numbers from first to ninety-ninth are expressed in words for most ordinary purposes.
They are also expressed in words to indicate:
Ordinals are written in figures to indicate:
Roman numerals are normally used to identify:
In running text, whole numbers of more than three digits are punctuated as follows:
In tables, a space replaces the punctuation marks in whole numbers of more than three digits in all languages. A column of numbers is presented as follows:
Decimals are punctuated as follows in both running text and tables:
Dates are expressed in terms of the standard (Gregorian) calendar, which is used in most countries. If a date is given in any other system, it should be followed by the date in the standard form in parentheses, with the abbreviation “A.D.” preceding the year.
The day is always followed by the month and year: 21 April 2004.
Months are normally written out in full but may be abbreviated in tables if space is limited (see "Notes to tables" in Tables).
Collective yearsA single period covering two or more full years is written as follows: 1999-2003 (or from 1999 to 2003); the biennium 2004-2005.
A period of less than 24 months that overlaps two years is written as follows: 2001/02. This form is used for peacekeeping budget periods and other 12-month financial or statistical periods.
Decades are always expressed as follows: the 1990s (not the nineties, the 90s or the 1990’s).
As the designations of the seasons relate to different times of the year in the northern and southern hemispheres, they should be used with care. A phrase such as “a meeting to be held in the spring” is ambiguous; a precise date (or month or quarter) should be given, if this can be ascertained.
Biannual, biennial and the like
In general usage, bimonthly and biweekly are also ambiguous: they mean either "occurring twice a month/week" or "occurring every other month/week". In United Nations usage, bimonthly and biweekly mean "occurring every other month/week", and semi-monthly and semi-weekly mean "occurring twice a month/week". It is best to avoid these words entirely, however, and write "twice a month/week" and "every other month/week" (or "every two months/weeks") as appropriate.
This year, next year
Non-specific references to "this year", "next year" or "last year" are to be avoided. Authors and editors should supply the specific year, thus: "In 2004, the Secretary-General reported..."; "The number of peacekeeping operations in 2005 was..."; "Beginning in 2006...".
The 12-hour system is used for most purposes. The time of day is expressed as follows:
The 24-hour system is used primarily in military and production schedules. The time is expressed in four figures and is written without punctuation: 0900 hours, 2100 hours.
The 24-hour system is always used: 9 heures, 13 h 30, 21 h 5.
The 24-hour system is always used: 9 horas, 13.30 horas, 21.05 horas.
Telephone and fax numbers should be written without parentheses or hyphens, as follows:
Where it is appropriate to include both a country and a city code, leave a space between the two codes and between the codes and the telephone or fax number. In the following example the first block of numbers (41) is the country code for Switzerland and the second block (22) is the city code for Geneva.
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