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Abbreviation of “number”

Ok, so the abbreviation is No, but should it have a capital ‘n’ to distinguish if from ‘no’, and is it with a period after it, or not?

It is short for numero so, at least in British English, I understand that there should be no period (as the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the word), but in US English there would be (because they don’t care about that sort of thing).

And the plural...? Nos. or Nos ... or nos or nos. ? or just leave it as No?

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You should just keep the abbreviation No. for both singular and plural.

Jalyn September 24, 2012, 11:32am

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We often just use the number sign # in North America. Why not?

D. A. Wood September 28, 2012, 3:23am

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I would say this one is more a matter of personal or house style, like whether to add commas to addresses etc in business letters. Personally I would capitalise and probably not use a full stop (period) - No 1. And I would use Nos 1-3 for plurals. But I don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong way. Although not North American I also use the hash sign in informal notes, but I wouldn't use it in more formal work.

I write a language blog for learners, with exercises which obviously have numbers, and with questions that also have numbers, but I hardly ever have to use the abbreviation No - for the questions I just use 1,2,3 etc and if I need to refer back to them, I refer to them as Question 1, or Questions 1-3 etc. But I suppose you still have the same style decision to make there, too.

Warsaw Will September 28, 2012, 1:51pm

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The abbreviation is just about what your sort of personal style is. If you try to make the sentence sound as short and to the point use he # sign. If you want to make your sentence legnthy, then use the whole word. For the abbreviations, North America usually uses the No. for both singular and plural, but really it soesn't matter.

Jalyn October 14, 2012, 1:33pm

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What a mess abbreviations have become. This may be my practical side but I personally do believe the "No" is extensively overused, I believe this because it is a very general abbreviation which usually refers to something more specific. Usually a number should represent something like an index, line, position, etc. and in most situations it should be appropriate to use a more descriptive title. In technical applications like Databases titles, Spreadsheet or Table headings, etc. I would urge against this temptation. I'm guessing it became popular back in the 60s and 70s every big name ended in Co.

I would only use the No abbreviation as part of a name or quote where the context is clearly stated, as in "Bus Stop No 3".

Jason K. October 14, 2012, 4:55pm

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Just as a point of interest, I work in the building trade in the UK and when receiving tenders for pricing, the quantities of items on a typical construction industry bill of quantities are often listed for example as: 4 Nr (referring to 4 in number). I have also seen this usage spill over onto tender forms requesting Company Reg Nr, and VAT Nr.

I see this frequently, it's not an isolated occurrence. Here's a link to an example in Laxton's Building Price, Book 2007 -

bloops October 19, 2012, 1:54pm

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For those of my generation (ahem) the plural is nos. either with a capital or without. It's a usage I haven't seen in quite a while.

Skeeter Lewis October 25, 2012, 12:37pm

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Often times when I see the abbreviation for number, it has a period after it with a capital n so you can identify it from the word no.
Example: No. 15

Just my personal opinion, but I say that abbreviating makes things more confusing, and you might as well just say or write the whole word.

an0nymous November 29, 2012, 2:50am

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Just for a change, any comments on N° for this abbreviation.

Chris ward December 10, 2012, 9:19pm

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Awe.....Hell NO........

Justanotherguy February 13, 2013, 8:14am

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Henry Jasper Montgomery Carrington Smith October 7, 2013, 7:05pm

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Yes     No