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Style Guide

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A set of standards, rules and conventions for the content of mathematical web pages.

This is a work in progress, and probably always will be. I am putting it together for my own benefit but realise that it may be of use to others too. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

A Level

This qualification has capital initial letters and no hyphen.


Avoid using commas in large numbers. Use spaces, if necessary to separate groups of three digits. Fifty three million can be written as 53 000 000 rather than 53,000,000. In some countries a comma is used in place of a decimal point so avoiding commas avoids confusion.


Beware spelling this word with an i. Complement means something that completes or makes perfect as in complementary angles (sum to 180o). A compliment is a word, act or a circumstance, that expresses gratefulness, acknowledgement or honour to someone.

Et cetera

The abbreviation is followed by a full stop etc.


The abbreviation contains two full stops e.g.


Use less with mass (continuous) nouns and fewer with count (discrete) nouns. Fewer pens, less clutter!


When you put a number at the beginning of a sentence it is recommended to write the number as a word (or words). If the number would be ridiculously long in words, you should rephrase the sentence so the number does not come at the beginning.

Use words for integers from one to ten inclusive, except: in percentages (e.g., 4%); and in sets of numerals, some of which are higher than ten.


When written as words, fractions should be hyphenated (one-half, three-quarters, etc.)


In addition to their use to join words to indicate that they have a combined meaning, hyphens can be used in place of the word to when used with figures i.e. 7-11, 5m–6m (not 5–6m)

Id est

That is to say: i.e.


Learnt is British English while learned is American English.


The abbreviation for million is m though this is often confused with metres so should be avoided. A billion is a thousand million, a trillion a thousand billion, a quadrillion a thousand trillion.


Maths teachers are very good correcting their pupils when they use the letter O name when they really mean nought or zero. It is important to distinguish between letters (as used in algebra) and numbers. There are however exceptions to this rule that have come about by common usage:

  1. James Bond's number is double 'O' seven
  2. The first Scout camp took place in 1907 (nineteen 'O' seven)
  3. My telephone number is 'O' two four nine seven one one one
  4. A famous TV series was called Hawaii 5 'O'
  5. It's my father's birthday. He's celebrating his big five 'O'.

Post Script

Post script should be in capitals with full stops as P.S.


The young people sitting in front of teachers in schools are called pupils by the English National Curriculum documents rather than students.


Half a circle is one word, no hyphen between the i and c.


When used with figures, these lower-case abbreviations should follow immediately, with no space: 9am 3.30pm 17kg 388mm 108mph

Vocabulary for Arithmetic

The Transum website uses British English but here are some common American mathematical words that are different to the British English equivalent.

If you are interested in the difference between British and American mathematical words there are some activities testing your knowledge here: Math vs Maths

Student Activity


The inspiration for this style guide came from the Grammar Girl podcast and the main references were the Oxford English Dictionary and the Economist Style Guide.

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