Re: Measurements: Fraction, Decimals, or Both

Subject: Re: Measurements: Fraction, Decimals, or Both
From: "wondersofone -at- gmail -dot- com" <wondersofone -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: tech2wr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 12:19:36 -1000

Thanks all! My replies are inline. Based on the feedback, I'm leaning
towards using what the manufacturer gives us, whether it's in fractions or
in decimals. It would eliminate that extra step of converting the numbers.

Our customers are in the U.S. Final output of text will be to the Web. And
you are correct, data input will be through the vendor's new system module.
So we're still slowly learning what the limitations of the system are. What
we know (for now) is there will be no way to format the text in the system
module. So output might be simply plain text.

>>>On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 1:24 AM, Peter Neilson wrote:

> Unless you are writing strictly for an audience who expect nothing but SI
> units (metric system) you must find a way to represent fractions properly.
> It seems that you have gotten boxed into an inadequate system for authoring
> and presentation. With more information about your situation we might be
> able to give you some better help. Why can't you format fractions correctly?
> One standard way to prepare scientific papers or anything else requiring
> unusual typography is to use Tex or LaTex. Some people find that emacs's
> "Org Mode" front end to LaTex is helpful.

Precision is not an issue. And no fraction glyphs. I will seriously
consider using the hyphenation between mixed number (e.g., 1-1/2" x 3-3/4"
x 5").

>>>On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 4:17 AM, Slager Timothy J wrote:
When we use fractions, we use the method with hyphens. It seems to cause
less confusion than most of the alternatives. If you had a full set of
fraction glyphs, I suppose you could go that route, but we didn't and it
seemed more complicated.

The problem with using decimals, for us at least, actually is a matter of
precision. If you want to imply the fraction 1/8, you want to use 0.125
rather than 0.13. But three decimals almost always implies a higher level
of precision in measurement than two decimals, and of course this gets
worse if you get into 16ths. If not, you have to specify that in your
"About this document" section and hope that people read it or always
include +/- tolerances.

I wish we would just go metric!


For the most part, precision is not an issue. But then, we do have
thousands and thousands of different products from hundreds of different
manufacturers, so there may be some products where it matters, and it's the
reason why one of my options would be to simply reflect the measurements
given by the manufacturer (whether fractions or decimals).

>>>On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 4:52 AM, Michael Hopwood wrote:
I would need more information on the use case(s) to decide. Precision is
functionally determined. Have a look at *how* the device(s) are to be used
and figure out what precision (including tolerances) is actually needed to
get the intended results, safely and legally.

Best wishes,


Your assumptions are spot on!

>>>On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 5:35 AM, Sweet, Gregory P (HEALTH) wrote:
How do you intend the nontechnical customer to use the information? Iâll
assume it so that the nontechnical consumer might check to see if the
home-product might fit into the space they are thinking about putting it
in, or to get a rough idea of how much space the home-product will take up
when put in the place the nontechnical consumer is considering, e.g., how
far will this thing stick out into the hallway?

As such you will need to provide fractions, as the typical tape measure,
yard stick, and other available rulers in the non-technical tool set will
be mark in U.S. Standard. At least for US customers anyway.



I think you are right. I don't think I will know every industry and every
one of their measurement standards. So it may just be more efficient (and
accurate) that I simply reflect the measurement given to us by the
manufacturer. So now I can focus on the formatting issue.

>>>On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 9:59 AM, Lauren wrote:
It depends on the nature of the "home-product." If it is small, a liquid,
like paint, or ingested, then use decimals and milligram measurements,
similar to drug descriptions.

If you are working with measured products that are larger or handled, like
paper or fabric and even recipes, then use fractions, since that is what
people are used to and fractions are easier to adjust for different sizes
and quantities.

> On Fri, 07 Oct 2016 04:01:05 -0400
> I can't make a decision. This is the first time I'm working heavily with
>> measurements. I'm writing home-product descriptions for nontechnical
>> customers. The descriptions will include measurements that I get from
>> multiple manufacturers. Each manufacturer writes it either in fractions or
>> decimals. My options are to just reflect how they write it or to pick one
>> method and do conversions to adhere to that one method I choose (convert
>> the fraction to decimal or vice versa). Pricision is not an issue.
>> Though, I am leaning towards using only decimals since I can't use
>> superscripting and subscripting to format fractions. So I could get
>> measurements like 5 1/4' x 11 3/4' x 1 1/8' that might annoy customers
>> because the numbers could seem to run into each other making it more
>> difficult to read.
>> I've also considered using hyphens between the mixed numbers, but am not
>> sure if that might cause other confusion when reading. E.g., 5-1/4' x
>> 11-3/4' x 1-1/8'.
>> These types of measurements could appear in bulleted lists or in
>> narratives.
>> Anyone have an opinion one way or another? Or know of any "industry"
>> standards, unspoken rules, or no-nos about converting someone's
>> measurements?
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Measurements: Fraction, Decimals, or Both: From: wondersofone -at- gmail -dot- com
Re: Measurements: Fraction, Decimals, or Both: From: Peter Neilson

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