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Wikitravel:Measurements

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We often have to use measurements in Wikitravel — for the distances between places, for the altitude of mountains, for the temperature of deserts, for the volume of a glass of beer. This style guideline explains how to specify and format measurements.

Use local units of measurement

When showing a measurement, use the local system of units for the destination you're describing. This is the system that travellers will see on road signs, local maps, menus, food packages, weather reports, etc.

For most of the world, this is the metric system. For the United States of America, it's the "US standard" system (miles, gallons, pounds), which is similar to the Imperial system of the United Kingdom. In some cases, the systems are mixed — for example, in the United Kingdom, road distances are measured in miles and beer served by the pint, while meat and canned goods, for example, are measured in (kilo)grams. Milk is measured in both pints and litres. We favour accuracy over consistency.

The chief difference between the US standard system and the Imperial system is in the sizes of the pint and the gallon. The US measures are 20% smaller than the Imperial measures. That means you get more drunk on a British pint, and you get fewer miles to the gallon on American roads!

If the measurements span multiple countries, use metric.

For articles that don't deal with a particular destination (like travel topics), use metric.

Provide conversions

It's easier for travellers to understand measurements if they're converted to their own country's units. For this reason, it's best to provide conversions for measurements into both metric and imperial, the two systems most widely used in the English-speaking world.

If the preferred units are metric, provide imperial measurements in parentheses after. If the preferred units are imperial, provide metric measurements in parentheses. If for some reason the local unit is neither metric nor imperial, provide first metric then imperial measurements separated by a comma in parentheses afterwards.

Don't repeat conversions unnecessarily.

Accuracy

There is no need to convert between units to unnecessarily precise decimal places. If you convert between units only state the conversion to the same number of significant digits as the original measure. If you want to show decimal places or be more accurate than a single unit allows, consider going down to a smaller unit. Remember, these measurements are going to be used by travellers, not scientists.

To indicate approximately, use the un-italicized abbreviation "c. " (followed by a space) rather than circa, ca., or approx.

Avoid orphaned units

Except for measurements of temperature, we have a mild preference for separating the number from its associated unit by a single space but:

  • Don't go wild copy editing different formatting (unless you're seriously underemployed)
  • To avoid the unit of measurement that "belongs" to a measurement being "orphaned" from its associated unit when it wraps to a following line, separate the pair with a non breaking space character " " rather than a simple space.

eg:"4500 km" will display 4500 km

Examples

The following are some examples of good practice for measurements.

  • It's 2800 mi (4500 km) from Los Angeles to New York City.
  • It's 815 km (506 mi) from Paris to Marseille.
  • It's 305 mi(490 km) from San Antonio to Monterrey.
  • Pikes Peak is 14,110 ft (4301 m) high.
  • Mount Fuji is 3776 m (12,388 ft) high.
  • Temperatures in Death Valley routinely hit 110°F (43°C).
  • In winter, Iqaluit gets down to -50°C (-58°F).
  • Just 2 miles (3 km) down the road in Glasgow you can get very good pints of beer.
  • Just 3 km (2 mi) down the road in Hamburg you can get very good half-litres of beer.
  • 5 km (3 mi) to the north is a national park. 5 km to the south is a lake.

Length

Always abbreviate units. Do not put periods (full stops) after units. Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural.

  • kilometre = km
  • metre = m
  • centimetre = cm
  • millimetre = mm

Note: Never capitalise the first letter.

  • mile = mi
  • yard = yd
  • foot = ft
  • inch = in

Note: Never use ' or " to signify feet or inches.

Area

Always abbreviate units. Do not put periods (full stops) after units. Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural.

  • square millimetre = mm²
  • square centimetre = cm²
  • square meter = m²
  • square kilometre = km²
  • hectare = ha

Never capitalise the first letter.

  • square inch = in²
  • square foot = ft²
  • square yard = yd²
  • square mile = mi²
  • acre = acre

Duration

Always abbreviate units. Do not put periods (full stops) after units. Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural. Never capitalize the first letter.

  • year or years = yr
  • week or weeks = wk
  • hour or hours = hr
  • minute or minutes = min

Weight/Mass

Always abbreviate units. Do not put periods (full stops) after units. Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural.

  • metric tonne = t
  • kilogram = kg
  • gram = g
  • milligram = mg

Note: Never capitalize the first letter.

  • ton = ton
  • hundredweight = cwt
  • pound = lb
  • ounce = oz

Volume

Always abbreviate units. Do not put periods (full stops) after units. Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural.

Dry Volume

  • cubic metre = m³
  • cubic centimetre = cm³
  • cubic millimetre = mm³

Note: Never capitalise the first letter.

  • pint = pt
  • quart = qt
  • peck = pk
  • bushel = bu
  • cubic inch = in³ or cu in
  • cubic feet = ft³ or cu ft
  • cubic yard = yd³ or cu yd

Fluid Volume

Always abbreviate units. Do not put periods (full stops) after units. Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural.

  • liter = L
  • milliliter = mL

(L is always capitalized when used as an abbreviation for litre to avoid confusion with the numeral one.)

  • gill = gi
  • pint = pt
  • quart = qt
  • gallon = gal

Temperature

  • Celsius = degrees Celsius or °C

Note: Never use centigrade to mean Celsius!

  • Fahrenheit = degrees Fahrenheit or °F

Note: When referring to places inside the United States, show temperatures in Fahrenheit first and Celsius in parentheses. Anywhere else, use Celsius first with Fahrenheit in parentheses.

Note: Once you choose a temperature format, use that format throughout the page. Do not switch back and forth.

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