Editing money numbers and currencies

Editors can edit material with both words and numbers, and care is required with both for clear communication.

In some disciplines such as finance and accounting, many numbers may be in monetary units and in various currencies. If the material is for an Australian audience in an Australian publication, refers to $ and cites government or public statistics, there is usually no doubt for readers about the currency of the dollars cited – the $ are Australian.

However, in work for international audiences or material published in international journals, using dollar amounts can be confusing if the currency is not clear, such as dollars in Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the United States.

Even when the specific currencies for various numbers are clearly cited, it can also be useful to provide equivalents or convert to a common unit, such as to the euro, the monetary unit and currency of the European Union.

Dollar values can change over time, so when referring to monetary units over a long time period, be aware of whether the numbers have been, or should be, adjusted for inflation. If they have been adjusted, be clear about the method used.

As well as money numbers in the text, tables and figures with monetary units should be clear about the currency, such as Australian dollars, US dollars or euros. Be clear about the scale of the units – whether cents, dollars, ‘000s, millions or billions. Choose the scale that provides the right level of detail to communicate clearly.

To work with an accredited editor on material with numbers, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

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