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Standards for presentation of numerical data for usability and accessibility

I'm trying to find a guide for the formatting and presentation of
numbers in web pages, which will answer questions along the lines of
what if anything to use as separators in large figures, how to use
abbreviations for things like millions of dollars, and so on.

Thanks,

Daniele

[Followups set, please excuse the earlier message
alt.html.web-accessibility which didn't get cross-posted]
Aug 10 '07 #1
20 2278
On Fri, 10 Aug 2007, D.M. Procida wrote:
Another example, this time for numbers in tables: I might want to make a
table of figures easier to parse by rounding the numbers and using
thousands or millions rather than units. So instead of "$13286723", I
could use "$13.3m", or "13.3m" or "$13.3" or even just "13.3".
Most people would take "13.3m" or "13.3*m" as "13.3 metres".
Further, the symbol for "mega" is "M", meaning one million -
whereas the symbol for "milli" is "m", meaning one thousandth.

(What has this to do with authoring.html?)
Aug 10 '07 #2
Andreas Prilop <Pr********@trashmail.netwrote:
Another example, this time for numbers in tables: I might want to make a
table of figures easier to parse by rounding the numbers and using
thousands or millions rather than units. So instead of "$13286723", I
could use "$13.3m", or "13.3m" or "$13.3" or even just "13.3".

Most people would take "13.3m" or "13.3 m" as "13.3 metres".
Further, the symbol for "mega" is "M", meaning one million -
whereas the symbol for "milli" is "m", meaning one thousandth.
Well, exactly. There are a number of conventions surrounding how to
present such figures, and while this generally isn't a problem for users
of printed material, or users who can easily grasp the context and
convention from surrounding material, it still presents accessibility
and usability issues for others in the context of HTML.
(What has this to do with authoring.html?)
It's a question about HTML authoring.

Daniele
Aug 10 '07 #3
On 8/10/2007 4:49 AM, D.M. Procida wrote:
I'm trying to find a guide for the formatting and presentation of
numbers in web pages, which will answer questions along the lines of
what if anything to use as separators in large figures, how to use
abbreviations for things like millions of dollars, and so on.

Thanks,

Daniele

[Followups set, please excuse the earlier message
alt.html.web-accessibility which didn't get cross-posted]
Be sure your HTML indicates language, at the very beginning in your
!DOCTYPE. This is important because some languages use commas as
separators and periods as decimal points (e.g., English in the US and
UK) and some languages reverse this, using periods as separators and
commas as decimal points.

I would write out the numbers using numerals instead of words. This
serves two purposes.

First of all, in some countries (e.g., the US) "billion" means a
thousand million; in others, it means a million million. I think (not
sure) this UK is in the latter group. Thus, avoiding words avoids
confusion that cannot be resolved by specifying language.

The other purpose relates specifically to presenting a Web page. The
user can copy the numerals and paste them into a spreadsheet; otherwise,
the user must manually type them while adding zeros and shifting the
decimal point. (In my ten-year-old version of Excel, you can't use
Paste if there are separators; but you can use Paste Special as Text,
for which I created a macro button.)

Yes, I do think this was an appropriate question for this newsgroup.

--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/>.

Don't ask "Why is there road rage?" Instead, ask
"Why NOT Road Rage?" or "Why Is There No Such
Thing as Fast Enough?"
<http://www.rossde.com/roadrage.html>
Aug 10 '07 #4
On Fri, 10 Aug 2007, David E. Ross wrote:
Be sure your HTML indicates language, at the very beginning in your
!DOCTYPE.
To be specific, this means <html lang="en".
http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/dirlang.html#h-8.1
Aug 10 '07 #5
David E. Ross wrote:
On 8/10/2007 4:49 AM, D.M. Procida wrote:
>I'm trying to find a guide for the formatting and presentation of
numbers in web pages, which will answer questions along the lines of
what if anything to use as separators in large figures, how to use
abbreviations for things like millions of dollars, and so on.

Thanks,

Daniele

[Followups set, please excuse the earlier message
alt.html.web-accessibility which didn't get cross-posted]

Be sure your HTML indicates language, at the very beginning in your
!DOCTYPE. This is important because some languages use commas as
separators and periods as decimal points (e.g., English in the US and
UK) and some languages reverse this, using periods as separators and
commas as decimal points.

I would write out the numbers using numerals instead of words. This
serves two purposes.

First of all, in some countries (e.g., the US) "billion" means a
thousand million; in others, it means a million million. I think (not
sure) this UK is in the latter group.
In the UK a million used to be 1,000,000,000,000 but it is now almost
universally accepted to be 1,000,000,000
Aug 10 '07 #6
On 2007-08-10, PDannyD <pd*****@yahoo.co.ukwrote:
David E. Ross wrote:
[...]
>First of all, in some countries (e.g., the US) "billion" means a
thousand million; in others, it means a million million. I think (not
sure) this UK is in the latter group.

In the UK a million used to be 1,000,000,000,000
That was a billion. A million has always been 1e6. David E. Ross was
right.
but it is now almost universally accepted to be 1,000,000,000
Yes, even in the UK. An old-style billion is now often called a
"trillion".
Aug 10 '07 #7
In comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html message
<1i*********************************************** @apple-juice.co.uk>,
Fri, 10 Aug 2007 12:49:25, D.M. Procida <real-not-anti-spam-
ad*****@apple-juice.co.ukposted:
>I'm trying to find a guide for the formatting and presentation of
numbers in web pages, which will answer questions along the lines of
what if anything to use as separators in large figures, how to use
abbreviations for things like millions of dollars, and so on.
A decimal point should always have a digit on each side, except maybe in
tables where the format makes that unnecessary and impractical. It's
better not to have a number (in digits) at the beginning or end of a
sentence.

There is an international standard for representing currencies by
letters, probably ISO 4217 or successor.

--
(c) John Stockton, Surrey, UK. *@merlyn.demon.co.uk / ??*********@physics.org
Web <URL:http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/- FAQish topics, acronyms, & links.
Correct <= 4-line sig. separator as above, a line precisely "-- " (SoRFC1036)
Do not Mail News to me. Before a reply, quote with ">" or "" (SoRFC1036)
Aug 11 '07 #8
Scripsit Dr J R Stockton:
A decimal point should always have a digit on each side, except maybe
in tables where the format makes that unnecessary and impractical.
It's better not to have a number (in digits) at the beginning or end
of a sentence.
There are many opinions, practices, and recommendations on such matters,
depending on language, authority, context, etc. And there is nothing
particularly HTML-related here.
There is an international standard for representing currencies by
letters, probably ISO 4217 or successor.
Or by numbers. Such codes have been defined for the purposes of
international banking business, internal data base representation, etc., not
for normal text. And there is nothing particularly HTML-related here.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Aug 11 '07 #9
In comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html message <Xepvi.205746$396.144606@
reader1.news.saunalahti.fi>, Sat, 11 Aug 2007 23:46:47, Jukka K. Korpela
<jk******@cs.tut.fiposted:
>Scripsit Dr J R Stockton:
>A decimal point should always have a digit on each side, except maybe
in tables where the format makes that unnecessary and impractical.
It's better not to have a number (in digits) at the beginning or end
of a sentence.

There are many opinions, practices, and recommendations on such
matters, depending on language, authority, context, etc. And there is
nothing particularly HTML-related here.
No; my intent was to be helpful to the OP, rather than to be
unnecessarily offensive. My first sentence there re-expresses something
which may, IIRC, be found in IUPAP/SUNAMCO, which is sufficiently
authoritative where it formally applies and an excellent guide wherever
the same reasoning applies. My second has no particular authority other
than my own; but IMHO will be preferred by any well-educated person.
>There is an international standard for representing currencies by
letters, probably ISO 4217 or successor.

Or by numbers. Such codes have been defined for the purposes of
international banking business, internal data base representation,
etc., not for normal text.
The alphabetical code, while inappropriate for text intended to have
great literary appeal, can reasonably be used in paragraphs of a more
technical nature, and is certainly appropriate in relevant HTML tables.

--
(c) John Stockton, Surrey, UK. ?@merlyn.demon.co.uk Turnpike v6.05 IE 6
news:comp.lang.javascript FAQ <URL:http://www.jibbering.com/faq/index.html>.
<URL:http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/js-index.htmjscr maths, dates, sources.
<URL:http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/TP/BP/Delphi/jscr/&c, FAQ items, links.
Aug 12 '07 #10
PDannyD wrote:
David E. Ross wrote:
>On 8/10/2007 4:49 AM, D.M. Procida wrote:
>>I'm trying to find a guide for the formatting and presentation of
numbers in web pages, which will answer questions along the lines of
what if anything to use as separators in large figures, how to use
abbreviations for things like millions of dollars, and so on.

Thanks,

Daniele

[Followups set, please excuse the earlier message
alt.html.web-accessibility which didn't get cross-posted]

Be sure your HTML indicates language, at the very beginning in your
!DOCTYPE. This is important because some languages use commas as
separators and periods as decimal points (e.g., English in the US and
UK) and some languages reverse this, using periods as separators and
commas as decimal points.

I would write out the numbers using numerals instead of words. This
serves two purposes.

First of all, in some countries (e.g., the US) "billion" means a
thousand million; in others, it means a million million. I think (not
sure) this UK is in the latter group.

In the UK a million used to be 1,000,000,000,000 but it is now almost
universally accepted to be 1,000,000,000
Doh! I meant a billion, not a million.
Well spotted Ben C.
Aug 12 '07 #11
Scripsit Dr J R Stockton:
>There are many opinions, practices, and recommendations on such
matters, depending on language, authority, context, etc. And there is
nothing particularly HTML-related here.

No;
So why do you keep discussing the issue here?
my intent was to be helpful to the OP,
Not all people realize that off-topic advice is usually wrong, and even in
an appropriate context, it would not be helpful to offer some opinions
without citations and without notes about the area of applicability.
The alphabetical code, while inappropriate for text intended to have
great literary appeal, can reasonably be used in paragraphs of a more
technical nature, and is certainly appropriate in relevant HTML tables.
There is nothing especially HTML-related here, despite your use of the
phrase "HTML tables". And this piece of advice is generally wrong, as
off-topic advice usually is. And codes, as opposite to names or commonly
known symbols like "$", are surely not _accessible_.

ObHTML: "HTML tables" aren't really tables; they are a messy mix of real
tables (tabular data) and layout settings, and more often used for the
latter.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Aug 13 '07 #12
On 8/13/2007 2:47 AM, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
Scripsit Dr J R Stockton:
>>There are many opinions, practices, and recommendations on such
matters, depending on language, authority, context, etc. And there is
nothing particularly HTML-related here.
No;

So why do you keep discussing the issue here?
>my intent was to be helpful to the OP,

Not all people realize that off-topic advice is usually wrong, and even in
an appropriate context, it would not be helpful to offer some opinions
without citations and without notes about the area of applicability.
>The alphabetical code, while inappropriate for text intended to have
great literary appeal, can reasonably be used in paragraphs of a more
technical nature, and is certainly appropriate in relevant HTML tables.

There is nothing especially HTML-related here, despite your use of the
phrase "HTML tables". And this piece of advice is generally wrong, as
off-topic advice usually is. And codes, as opposite to names or commonly
known symbols like "$", are surely not _accessible_.

ObHTML: "HTML tables" aren't really tables; they are a messy mix of real
tables (tabular data) and layout settings, and more often used for the
latter.
The original message from Procida in this thread referred to
formatting and presentation of numbers in web pages
Procida is authoring a Web page using HTML. This is most clearly
on-topic in this news group.

Further, he later expanded on his question by relating the issue to
accessibility. That, too, is on-topic.

--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/>.

Anyone who thinks government owns a monopoly on inefficient, obstructive
bureaucracy has obviously never worked for a large corporation. © 1997
Aug 13 '07 #13
Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
>
And some languages have varying practices. But does this matter? Almost
all browsers (and search engines) ignore language markup.
Jaws use it.
If you don't specify the language or lie about it, you may end up hearing
a voice with an awful accent.

--
You can contact me at <ta*****************@yahoDELETETHATo.fr>
Aug 23 '07 #14
In message <i7********************@reader1.news.saunalahti.fi >, Jukka K.
Korpela <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrites
>In a more ideal world, we could use markup that indicates whether a
sequence of digits (possibly with interspersed punctuation) is a
mathematical number or a code-like notation (normally read digit by
digit). But HTML has nothing like that.
CSS does, though:

speak: spell-out;

speak-numeral: digits;

See:

<http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/aural.html#speaking-props>
and:

<http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/aural.html#speech-props>

respectively. These are recognised by Opera, at least, and there's a
small test suite at:

<http://www.pigsonthewing.org.uk/opera.htm>

should anyone wish to try it.

[apologies for the belated response]

--
Andy Mabbett
* Say "NO!" to compulsory ID Cards: <http://www.no2id.net/>
* Free Our Data: <http://www.freeourdata.org.uk>
* Are you using Microformats, yet: <http://microformats.org/?
Sep 12 '07 #15
Andy Mabbett <us**********@pigsonthewing.org.ukwrote:
In a more ideal world, we could use markup that indicates whether a
sequence of digits (possibly with interspersed punctuation) is a
mathematical number or a code-like notation (normally read digit by
digit). But HTML has nothing like that.

CSS does, though:
speak-numeral: digits;
This property controls how numerals are spoken. Values have the
following meanings:

digits
Speak the numeral as individual digits. Thus, "237" is spoken "Two Three
Seven".
continuous
Speak the numeral as a full number. Thus, "237" is spoken "Two hundred
thirty seven". Word representations are language-dependent.

Any idea how 345,676 would be rendered? "Three hundred forty five, comma
six hundred seventy six", or "three hundred and forty five thousand, six
hundred seventy six"?

Daniele
Sep 13 '07 #16
Scripsit D.M. Procida:
Any idea how 345,676 would be rendered? "Three hundred forty five,
comma six hundred seventy six", or "three hundred and forty five
thousand, six hundred seventy six"?
My guess is that speech rendering software typically has settings that
control this. They don't pay attention to the speak-numeral (or
speak-punctuation) property defined in CSS 2.0; I wonder whether Opera is
the only exception.

The property is sloppily defined in CSS 2.0, and CSS 2.1 drafts (which have
moved aural style sheets from the normative part to an informative
appendix - a poor compromise between promoting them and dropping them) does
not change this at all. To begin with, what is a "numeral"? Is "I" a
numeral? (In "king Charles I", it surely is.) Is "1st" a numeral? Always?
What about "FFFF"? (Think about "The Unicode character with code number FFFF
in hexadecimal".)

We would have similar but less severe problems if we tried to add <number>
markup to HTML, but less serious, since each instance of a number would have
that markup. In the CSS approach, the property applies to all elements, so
an author could say body { speak-numeral: continuous }, leaving it to poor
browsers to decide what to do with Charles I and friends.

In any processing, whether affected by markup or stylesheets or not, that
tries to speak numbers naturally, "345,676" would need to be treated in a
language-specific way, and I don't just mean the names of numbers. In
English, it's an integer. In many other languages, it is a decimal number,
with a comma as the decimal separator.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Sep 13 '07 #17
Jukka K. Korpela <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrote:
In any processing, whether affected by markup or stylesheets or not, that
tries to speak numbers naturally, "345,676" would need to be treated in a
language-specific way, and I don't just mean the names of numbers. In
English, it's an integer. In many other languages, it is a decimal number,
with a comma as the decimal separator.
In fact it was just that kind of ambiguity which prompted my original
question: how to present and format numerical data for maximum
comprehension and minimum confusion.

Daniele
Sep 13 '07 #18
In comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html message <Yp7Gi.222739$ow3.49556@r
eader1.news.saunalahti.fi>, Thu, 13 Sep 2007 12:30:10, Jukka K. Korpela
<jk******@cs.tut.fiposted:
To begin with, what is a "numeral"? Is "I" a numeral? (In "king
Charles I", it surely is.)
Actually it is an ordinal (and the K needs to be upper case). He was
King Charles the First, not King Charles One.

--
(c) John Stockton, Surrey, UK. ?@merlyn.demon.co.uk Turnpike v6.05 MIME.
Web <URL:http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/- FAQish topics, acronyms, & links.
For news:borland.*, use their server newsgroups.borland.com ; but first read
Guidelines <URL:http://www.borland.com/newsgroups/guide.htmlff. with care.
Sep 14 '07 #19
Scripsit Dr J R Stockton:
>To begin with, what is a "numeral"? Is "I" a numeral? (In "king
Charles I", it surely is.)

Actually it is an ordinal (and the K needs to be upper case). He was
King Charles the First, not King Charles One.
Ordinal numerals are regarded as numerals in any grammar book I've read, but
admittedly I've read just a dozen or so. Besides, the way we read roman
numbers (sic) in such contexts depends on the language, and not just in
vocabulary; some languages sometimes read them as cardinal numbers.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Sep 14 '07 #20
In article <T_*********************@reader1.news.saunalahti.f i>,
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrote:
Scripsit Dr J R Stockton:
To begin with, what is a "numeral"? Is "I" a numeral? (In "king
Charles I", it surely is.)
Actually it is an ordinal (and the K needs to be upper case). He was
King Charles the First, not King Charles One.

Ordinal numerals are regarded as numerals in any grammar book I've read, but
admittedly I've read just a dozen or so. Besides, the way we read roman
numbers (sic) in such contexts depends on the language, and not just in
vocabulary; some languages sometimes read them as cardinal numbers.
^^^^

Ah, you mean like Pope John Paul II? ;)
Sep 14 '07 #21

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