Re: Periods After Whole Numbers

Subject: Re: Periods After Whole Numbers
From: KNOXML1 <KnoxML1 -at- TEOMAIL -dot- JHUAPL -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 09:43:55 EST

Someone (I forget who--sorry) wrote:
>>My supervisor insists on putting periods after whole numbers. For
>>example, he writes "200. kg" rather than just "200 kg".

And Kris Olberg replied:

>I can't think of any GOOD reason to use it. Reduce ambiguity? No.
>Significant digits? No. (In the example, if there was only one significant
>digit, would you write that as 2.00 kg?) Because it's dictated by folklore?
>Emphatically no.

>I can think of GOOD reasons to not use it. 1) It takes up one extra byte of
>storage space every time it's used, 2) it's extra information the read must
>process for no good reason, and 3) you're probably one of only a handful of
>writers in the world that does it.

Kris is right, but there's another very good reason to avoid the decimal point:
It implies that the zeros in 200 kg are mathematically siginificant. (That is
the point of its use in accounting. It says that the $200 is no more that
$200.49 and no less than $199.50; it was not rounded from $203 or $195). Your
supervisor is not reducing ambiguity, he is asking you to change the meaning and
mislead the reader about the precision of the number.

Yes, lose the period!

Margaret Knox Morris
Techincal writer/editor
Margaret -dot- Morris -at- jhualp -dot- edu

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