Posted by: Jack Henry | January 17, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Dollar Signs

I recently sent out an Editor’s Corner about percentages, which raised some additional questions about other symbols we use with numbers. Getting a precise answer out of the Chicago Manual of Style was like herding cats, only more difficult. I found the rules about using symbols with monetary amounts much simpler on this site about business writing.

Amounts of Money Less than $1

Other than isolated references, followers of Chicago style should use the cent sign for amounts of money less than $1. However, if the reference appears near another amount of money $1 or greater, the cents should be formatted with the dollar sign and numerals.

§ The dairy charges a deposit per bottle.

§ The price of widgets has increased from $0.75 to $2.12 over the course of six months.

Although I personally follow Chicago style, I prefer the AP guide’s recommendation for spelling out cent because the cent sign is not readily available on standard keyboards.

Check out “Three Ways to Insert Currency Symbols in Microsoft Word” to learn how to insert the cent sign in your Word documents.

Amounts of Money Greater than 99¢ but Less than $1 Million

Use the dollar sign and numerals for specific amounts of money greater than 99¢ but less than $1 million.

§ This desk sells for $249 in New York and $239 in Chicago.

§ Our storage fee is $895.99 per month.

$1 Million and Greater

Simplify large numbers by spelling out million, billion, and trillion. You can include up to two numerals after a decimal point, if necessary.

§ The equipment upgrades will cost $1.25 million over three years.

§ We bought this startup for $990,000; it is now valued at $2 billion.

Final Thoughts

Although not an official style recommendation from any of our primary style guides, you may also want to consider streamlining large amounts of money by using approximate whole numbers if your readers don’t need to know the exact figure.

§ The neighboring property is listed for more than $6 million. (Instead of “The neighboring property is listed for $6,120,595.”)

§ Sales soared above $1 billion last year. (Instead of “Sales soared to $1,000,105,000 last year.”)

Have a lovely (short) week!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams |

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