# Metric and Standard Measurements (Symbols and Guidelines)

# Metric and Standard Measurements (Symbols and Guidelines)

Division E - General Information

Metric and Standard Measurements (Symbols and Guidelines)

## 1 __Introduction__

In 1970, Parliament unanimously endorsed the White Paper on Metric Conversion in Canada proposing the adoption of the most up-to-date metric system of measurement, the International System of Units or SI. Metric Commission Canada was established by order in council in June 1971 to prepare an overall plan for metric conversion.

The joy of the metric system lies in its simplicity and universality. It is simple because all relationships between a unit and its multiples and sub-multiples in the system are in powers of 10. Universal, because most countries in the world -- well over 95% of the world's population -- use metric units and/or are converting to SI.

To achieve this universality, 17 nations signed the Treaty of the Metre in 1875 and set up an international body to standardize metric units throughout the world. Many countries have since signed the Treaty of the Metre, and international conferences on weights and measures (la Conference Generale des Poids et Mesures, or CGPM) are held at regular intervals. Canada made the metric system legal by the Weights and Measures Act of 1873, and signed the Treaty of the Metre in 1907.

In 1960, the CGPM adopted the International System of Units, with the international abbreviation SI, and this is the metric measurement system adopted by Canada in the Weights and Measures Act of 1971.

A more detailed treatment of SI and its use are referenced in two National Standards of Canada: The International System of Units (SI), CAN3-Z234.2-76, and the Canadian Metric Practice Guide, CAN3-Z234.1-79. Both of these documents have been approved by the Standards Council of Canada, and are available from the Canadian Standards Association, 178 Rexdale Boulevard, Rexdale, Ontario M9W 1R3.

## 2 __SI Base Units__

Quantity | Name of Unit | Symbol |
---|---|---|

length | metre | m |

mass | kilogram | kg |

time | second | s |

electric current | ampere | A |

thermodynamic temperature | kelvin | K |

amount of substance | mole | mol |

luminous intensity | candela | cd |

SI is founded on seven base units: metre for length, kilogram for mass, second for time, ampere for electric current, kelvin for thermodynamic temperature, mole for amount of substance and candela for luminous intensity.

There are also two supplementary units:

Quantity | Name of Unit | Symbol |
---|---|---|

plane angle | radian | rad |

solid angle | steradian | sr |

## 3 __Some Derived Units with Special Names__

Name | Equivalent | ||
---|---|---|---|

Quantity | of Unit | Symbol | to |

force | newton | N | kg•m/sq.s |

pressure | pascal | Pa | N/ sq.m |

work, energy, quantity of work | joule | J | N•m |

power, heat flow rate | watt | W | J/s |

quantity of electricity | coulomb | C | A•s |

electric potential | volt | V | W/A |

electric resistance | ohm | ω | V/A |

electric capacitance | farad | F | C/V |

magnetic flux | weber | Wb | V•s |

inductance | henry | H | Wb/A |

magnetic flux density | tesla | T | Wb/ sq.m |

frequency | hertz | Hz | s-1 |

luminous flux | lumen | lm | cd•sr |

illuminance | lux | lx | lm/ sq.m |

absorbed dose of ionizing radiation | gray | Gy | J/kg |

Derived units are formed with base and / or supplementary units. In symbolic form they are expressed algebraically using the SI symbols with multiplication and / or division signs. For example, the derived unit for area is square metre (symbol sq.m); for density, kilogram per cubic metre (kg/sq.m); and for angular velocity, radian per second (rad/s). Some derived units have special names and symbols.

SI base units, supplementary units and derived units – but not their multiples and submultiples – form a “coherent” system of units.

## 4 __Some Units Permitted for Use with SI__

Quantity | Name | Symbol | Value in SI Units |
---|---|---|---|

time | minute | min | 1 min = 60 s |

hour | h | 1 h = 3 600 s | |

day | d | 1 d = 86 400 s | |

year | a | ||

plane angle | degree | ° | 1° = (π/180)rad |

minute | ' | 1' = (π/10 800)rad | |

second | " | 1" = (π/648 000)rad | |

area | hectare | ha | 1 ha = 1 h sq.m = 10 000 sq.m |

volume | litre | L | 1 L = 1 cu.dm |

temperature | degree Celsius* | °C | An interval of 1°C = 1 K |

By definition 0°C = 273.15 K | |||

mass | tonne | t | 1 t = 1 000 kg = 1 Mg |

These other units outside SI are also recognized for use with SI because of their practical importance.

- The Celsius temperature scale, known as Centigrade prior to 1948, is named after the Swedish astronomer and physicist Anders Celsius (1701-1744), to avoid confusion with an angular measurement “centigrade”.

## 5 __Common Symbols__

Quantity | Unit | Symbol |
---|---|---|

length | millimetre | mm |

length | metre | m |

length | kilometre | km |

mass | gram | g |

mass | kilogram | kg |

mass | tonne | t |

force | newton | N |

heat energy | kilocalorie | kcal |

volume | litre | L |

temperature | degree Celsius | °C |

## 6 __Common Prefixes__

Prefix | Means Multiply By | Symbol |
---|---|---|

mega | 1 000 000 | M |

kilo | 1 000 | k |

hecta | 100 | h |

deka | 10 | da |

deci | 0.1 | d |

centi | 0.01 | c |

milli | 0.001 | m |

micro | 0.000 001 | µ |

## 7 __Rules for Writing Symbols__

- .1 Symbols are always printed in upright type, irrespective of type face used in the rest of text: m g °C s

- .2 Symbols are written in lower case except for unit names derived from proper names, as follows: m for metre; s for second; but N for newton; A for ampere.

**NOTE**: When the names of the units which derive from a proper name are written out in full, only Celsius takes a capital.

- .3 Prefix symbols are in upright type without spacing between:
- kg for kilogram, km for kilometre

- .4 Symbols are never pluralized:
- 1 kg, 20 kg (
**not**20 kgs)

- 1 kg, 20 kg (

- .5 Names and symbols should not be mixed:
- kg or kilograms (
**not**kgrams or kilog)

- kg or kilograms (

- .6 Never use a period after a symbol unless it occurs at the end of a sentence.

- .7 Always use a full space between numerals and symbols:
- 10 kg (
**not**10kg)

- 10 kg (

**Exception**: where first symbol is not a letter:- 32°C (
**not**32° C or 32 °C)

- .8 Symbols should be used in conjunction with numerals instead of unit names (when no numerals are involved, unit names should be used).

- The roof area is 125 sq.m (
**not**125 square metres) - The roof area was given in square metres (
**not**in sq.m)

- The roof area is 125 sq.m (

- The product of two or more units in symbolic form is indicated by a dot (or asterisk). Kg*m (
**not**kg x m or kgm)

- The product of two or more units in symbolic form is indicated by a dot (or asterisk). Kg*m (

## 8 __Rules for Writing Numerals__

- .1 Use decimals, not fractions:
- 0.25 kg (
**not**1/4 kg) - 1.25 m (
**not**1-1/4 m)

- 0.25 kg (

- 2. Use a zero before a decimal point in numerals less than one.
- 0.45 kg (
**not**.45 kg)

- 0.45 kg (

- 3. Use spaces not commas to separate long numerals into blocks of three:
- 3 000 000.25 (
**not**3,000,000.25)

- 3 000 000.25 (

**Exception**: This is optional on a four digit numeral.

- 1234.5 or 1 234.5 are both acceptable.

- Note
- This rule is not applicable to the expression of amounts of money on negotiable instruments.

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