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In a scientific article, should I write "3m", "3 m", "3 meters", or "3 [meters]"?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

This guide at the NIST site is a good place to start.

In particular, you should write "3 m" as in "The bar is 3 m long."

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+1 Nice link find. – Neil Mar 11 '11 at 10:39
I've edited the answer to answer the particular question (feel free to revert if necessary), but yes, the guide is great as a reference for all unit issues. – ShreevatsaR Mar 12 '11 at 8:12

The abbreviation for meter is m; it is not written between brackets, and you need to add a space between the value and the measuring unit.

The absence of brackets, and the presence of a space to separate the measuring unit from the numeric value is not limited to meter, but it is common for all the measuring units.

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Quoting from Wikipedia:

The value of a quantity is written as a number followed by a space (representing a multiplication sign) and a unit symbol; e.g., "2.21 kg", "7.3×102 m2", "22 K".

This rule explicitly includes the percent sign (%). Exceptions are the symbols for plane angular degrees, minutes and seconds (°, ′ and ″), which are placed immediately after the number with no intervening space.

So three meters should be written as 3 m.

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