I try Googling but couldn't come up with a valid answer.

If I were to create a quotation, what is the correct unit to use for various kind of services. For other object, the unit would be like piece, unit, device, pair, roll, box, etc

For example, heater installation, repairing 3 phones, wiring 2 rooms.

Here is what the quotation template looks like.


From the picture, the unit behind "1" is currently "ea" (default value). I can change this unit to something else. Would it be appropriate to put in "job"? or to omit it completely? or other unit ?


  • 2
    It sounds like each of those is being treated as one item of work, so there isn't a specific unit (other than "item of work", I suppose). Even if your invoice says "Repairing phone: 3" a specific unit isn't needed, because the unit is "repairing phone".
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 10:35
  • I think Andrew is right, you would have the description of the individual task, and then the number of times that task was performed in a box next to it.
    – Dom
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 10:41
  • 4
    Typically you'd call "one heater installation, plus repairing three phones and wiring two rooms" six jobs. But even more pertinently, such work is usually assessed on a time and materials basis: that is, in hours, at a rate of $X per man-hour (because will you really charge the same amount for a heater installation as repairing a phone? Each is just one job, after all). If you are indeed charging on a T&M basis, and just looking to enumerate the work performed, say on an invoice, each job and its associated quantity would be called a line item.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 11:11
  • Thanks everyone for input, I've added picture so you have a better picture of what my quotation template looks like.
    – chmod
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 2:41
  • Why don't you just call it service? You can abbreviate as serv. (as in 1 serv.)
    – ermanen
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 4:01

4 Answers 4


In project management, a project is divided into discrete tasks; as ODO defines it, a task is simply

A piece of work to be done or undertaken

This is especially suitable if your organization uses task-based billing, in which services are standardized and prices are charged according to a menu. This turns up in software development, some legal and healthcare services, and some shop work. My auto shop uses a variant in which standard tasks are mapped to traditional worker-hours, e.g. a tire repair is charged at 0.25 hours regardless of whether it actually takes 0.2 hours or 0.75 hours to complete.

Task may not always be suitable; in everyday use it connotes a relatively small-scale or unsophisticated activity, especially one assigned by someone else. On the other hand, task is the term the U.S. federal government uses to describe individual projects when procuring services under certain contracting arrangements. A task order might call for a contractor to replace all the smoke detectors on a military base, or to ship 2500 tons of potatoes from eight sources to a distribution center for disaster relief, or other complex assignments.

As Dan Bron notes, the more traditional method of charging for labor is by the billable hour, with rates varying by the level of experience and expertise but more skilled or experienced workers assumed to be more productive than their less expensive colleagues. Work activity on a particular project might be, besides task, described as a job or a gig, or something specific to the nature of the work and the industry involved: two repairs, five trips, eight installations, three loads, and so on.


Besides 'item of work' or 'item' on its own as mentioned by Andrew Leach I've seen the term 'off' used in this use; for example:

1 off: Install heater.

3 off: Repair phone.

2 off: Wire room.

OED 'Used with a preceding numeral to represent a quantity in production or manufacture, or an item or number of items so produced.'

And from a search it's also been answered on here.... Is "off" also an acronym?

  • I can't add unit in front of the description. I've edited my question to include picture of my quotation template.
    – chmod
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 2:41
  • Off? Why off? Apparently I cannot just say "Why off"? and leave it at that because comments must be at least 15 characters. But really... why off?
    – Lynn
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 3:53
  • @Lynn Added ref. It's an eastern side of the pond thing, normally used in engineering circles and even more so in the services. There is a discussion here eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=179067
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 23:09
  • The OP gives no indication that the context is MOD or related. The thread you quote clearly explains that off has quite limited use and comprehension.
    – user63230
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 23:46
  • @Christopher - Interesting. Although I have to agree with andy256 that this usage is too narrow for what the OP is looking for.
    – Lynn
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 3:07

I think the problem comes from how you are trying to use the Qty column.

Qty is short for quantity. Entries could be

  • simple numbers, with units of the quantity described in the description column.
  • numbers with units such as: hours, dozens, boxes, trips, Kg, lbs, etc.

Adding ea or similar is to attempt to add a units term where none belongs. Which is why it's hard to find to right one - there is no "right" one.

Having said that, it is the case that you are not the first to do this, and entire industries have adopted illogical conventions. If you are serving such an industry, then you should just follow their convention.


If I were to create a quotation, what is the correct unit to use for various kind of services.

In the UK and elsewhere have never seen such a quotation/invoice. The first column heading "item" seems to serve no useful purpose - as it is part of a list, its position is obvious and doesn't require a number.

Quotations/invoices are divided into "parts" and "labour":

Item..unit price.......Qty...total

Hinges ......£10.00..........6.......£60

The list continues. There is then a subtotal for parts. There is a new line and


This is followed by a line if there is a tax to be added, and then the final line shows the amount to be paid.

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