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I need to put one of the above on one of my app's buttons.

Bonus question - does the same rule hold in plural? That is if I write "1 yr.", do I write "15 yrs." as well?

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Is your button really so small you can't afford the two extra characters of the full word? – Ed Guiness May 6 '11 at 9:51
@Ed - good point. it's a mobile app, so the space is extremely precious. – kolinko May 6 '11 at 16:59
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As reported by the New Oxford American Dictionary, yr. is an English abbreviation, but it could be both the abbreviation of year or years, while yrs. is the abbreviation for years. In such case, you could use 1 yr., 2 yr. and the abbreviation would always be correct.
As reported from the Oxford Dictionary of English, it's the same in British English, expect the abbreviation is written without period at the end (e.g. yr instead of yr.).

As already reported from the other answers, there should be a space between the number and yr. (or yr).

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Note: In British English there is no full stop: "1 yr" not "1 yr.". – Charles May 6 '11 at 18:19
@Charles, Seriously? Citation needed. – Pacerier Mar 2 at 12:30
@Pacerier: For a quick introduction to British English abbreviations, see oxforddictionaries.com/words/punctuation-in-abbreviations – Charles Mar 2 at 14:23
I added a note about the abbreviation in British English, as per what reported from the OD. – kiamlaluno Mar 2 at 15:59

It depends a lot on context.

In geology yr is the recognised symbol for years, when talking about absolute age.

Although there has been some controversy recently. See this New Scientist article: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20423-push-to-define-year-sparks-time-war.html

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As far as I know, the rules for spacing or not spacing between values and units is that there should always be a spacing between the value and the unit ("1 %" is incorrect, since percent is not a unit, but a fraction). Hence, "1yr" is incorrect, since "year" is a unit.

I'd write "1 yr", "15 yrs" if I really needed the space. In all other cases I'd prefer "1 year", "15 years", since "yr" doesn't look that good in text, in my opinion.

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I'd say there's no correct one, but 1 yr. (or 2 yrs.) come closest, based on convention.

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I'll go with "1 yr", without a dot (as it is a recognised symbol, at least in geology :) – kolinko May 6 '11 at 11:07

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