Re: Metric Time (was Re: Why not 13 months? (Was La Systeme Metrique))

Markus Kuhn (
16 Oct 1995 16:02:28 +0100

Guy Harris wrote:

> And it's "kilometer" in Germany? I'd been under the impression that
> "" spellings for metric units were a standard; does SI specify the
> spelling?

First a very good reference:

In case anyone is interested in the official specification of the
metric system, then get a copy of

Quantities and units,
ISO Standards Handbook,
International Organization for Standardization,
345 pages, 3rd edition, Geneva, 1993,
ISBN 92-67-10185-4.

For ordering information, check <> or mail to I guess, every good bookshop will also be able to
order it, as is your national standards body (ANSI, DIN, AFNOR, etc.).

This book contains the full standards ISO 31 and ISO 1000 which will
answer all your questions about the metric system in great detail. ISO
31 also contains quite good conversion tables to the imperial and cgs
systems and to astronomical and other common non-SI units. This book
is a very useful reference and you certainly should have a copy if you
are a science teacher or an author of scientific publications, product
documentation or textbooks (especially in the US!).

Back to your question:

The German words are meter and kilometer. The English version of the
ISO 31 and ISO 1000 standards write "metre", because ISO always uses
British English, but a footnote in ISO 31 says that in other English
speaking countries also "meter" is used.

I do not think it is important wether people write kilometer or
kilometre. However, it would be good if some people posting in this
thread at least understand that the correct SI abbreviations are km,
km/h, kg, etc. and NOT Km, KM, KPH, KMPH, KG, Kg and other phantasy
abbreviations which I have already seen. The abbreviations are
precisely standardized. There is also a space supposed to be between
the number and the units (i.e. "100 km" and not "100km") accoding to
ISO 31.

In addition, in international publications, you should never use the
comma in order to separate groups of three digits, better use a space.
The comma is used instead of the decimal dot in many languages
(German, French, etc.) and in Europe, most people will read 10,000 as
ten instead of as ten thousand.

Correct notation:

10 000 km
50 kg
100 km/h

Wrong notation:

10,000 km
100 KPH

In case you have any specific questions about the International System
of Units (SI), I have the above mentioned ISO standards here next to
my PC and am happy to answer whatever you want to know about them.


Markus Kuhn, Computer Science student -- University of Erlangen,
Internet Mail: <> - Germany
WWW Home: <>