Wikivoyage talk:Measurements

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Archived discussions

AWB or bot request[edit]

One article recently had some edits I considered silly, changing "kilometers" to "kilometres" or vice versa. My soluiion was to replace both with "km" throughout. I think making that change globally across the site would be a good idea, but doing it manually would be too much work.

Would anyone care to automate it with a bot? Or do it with partial sutomation using AWB? Pashley (talk) 12:03, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

That might be a solution for some article with silly contributors edit warring about the spelling, but for most articles the measures are spelled in accordance with the language otherwise used. I see no reason to do massive changes because of hypothetical problems. It seems measures of length should be abbreviated (according to this page), but that is a separate question. Using a bot would require being quite careful; there are contexts where abbreviations should not be used --LPfi (talk) 20:02, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Well this problem crops up from time to time at pages where it isn't really clear which is the preferred spelling. I for one prefer American spelling as it somewhat more closely aligns with pronunciation. So it's not entirely a non-issue. But whether a bot is really necessary, I don't know... Hobbitschuster (talk) 20:08, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Wholesale replacement of "kilometer" with "km" is a bad idea. Consider this sentence from United States of America: "Some areas near the Canadian and Mexican borders may feature road signs with distances in both miles and kilometers." Replacing that with "Some areas near the Canadian and Mexican borders may feature road signs with distances in both mi and km," doesn't read like a professional travel guide. We should abbreviate in listings, but only do so with care in prose. Powers (talk) 23:17, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I completely agree with this. Ikan Kekek (talk) 23:23, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Units of measurement policy[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Does Wikivoyage have a policy for how to use measurement units? It becomes an issue in articles about flying, as metric units are de facto standard in all countries except the USA, though international aviation uses American units for many purposes. We should also consider where knots, km/h and m/s should be used for speed. /Yvwv (talk) 05:15, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

Found it: Wikivoyage:Measurements. /Yvwv (talk) 05:24, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
If you write a section that is specifically directed towards pilots, using nautical (!) miles, knots etc. makes a lot of sense. But I guess that would be a pretty rare thing to do here, right? --El Grafo (talk) 11:58, 31 March 2017 (UTC)

I have created a few templates to help with formatting of distance and height. See Wikivoyage:Measurements#Examples how to show length. If people think this is useful we can create for other units of measure. --Traveler100 (talk) 09:30, 1 April 2017 (UTC)

Should get rid of those odd syntax characters --Traveler100 (talk) 09:40, 1 April 2017 (UTC)

Metric Imperial conversion templates[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Is it right that we currently only have those for distances, not for speed or weights? They might be helpful. Also, is there any way to teach them sig figs? I don't want my "about 100 km" or something of the sort to come out with seven digits behind the comma. Hobbitschuster (talk) 14:39, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

{{km|100}} produces this result: 100 km (62 mi). Ground Zero (talk) 14:59, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Added speed, will look at weights later. --Traveler100 (talk) 15:47, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Well most of the time "100 km" is rounded to a higher degree than 62 miles is. Hobbitschuster (talk) 16:02, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
I doubt that any of our readers would be confused by this conversion though. It's not like it's seven digits after the decimal, or something like that. Ground Zero (talk) 16:06, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

Why is anyone using these instead of just {{convert}} (which sure enough covers volume, speed, area, etc.)? —Justin (koavf)TCM 17:46, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

Because they are more self-explanatory. Hobbitschuster (talk) 17:51, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
yes it is about less characters, easier to type and clearer to read. Weight now done. --Traveler100 (talk) 18:45, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't see how anyone would be confused by {{convert|100|mi|km}}: if you know even the most basic wiki syntax, that's pretty obvious. Plus it's only a few characters longer ("convert" versus "km") and it means we use one template instead of several dozen--including ones that would presumably be redundant like {{inch}}, {{cm}}, {{mm}}, {{yd}}, {{m}}, {{mi}}, {{km}}, etc... This just all seems like a very bad and wasteful idea. —Justin (koavf)TCM 19:34, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
And if you don't know basic wiki syntax...? Frankly, I don't understand the point of these templates anyway. It's simple enough to look up a conversion and enter it manually, without needing to worry about the intricacies of template syntax. Powers (talk) 21:23, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
So we have three different ways of providing conversions -- the "convert" template, their individual templates, and entering them manually. This means that editors can use whichever method works best for them. Sounds like a good, flexible approach. Ground Zero (talk) 21:32, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
@Ground Zero:, Actually, the obvious solution (which I'm embarrassed to admit I only just now realized), is to have {{km}}, {{inch}}, etc. all just redirect to {{convert}} or act as a wrapper template for it. —Justin (koavf)TCM 21:36, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
There's nothing stopping someone from inserting "Note that the werewolves are only two miles from the capital region..." rather than "Note that the werewolves are only {{convert|2|mi|km}} from the capital region..." and then someone like you or me can come fix it later. Still a very low barrier to entry and it is definitely helpful to the many millions of readers who don't understand either what a "mile" or a "kilometer" are but do understand the other. This seems like basic ttcf stuff: not everyone knows what a mile is, nor is he always going to have a handy conversion chart, so if someone has a print edition of a Wikivoyage guide (which is one of our stated goals), then being able to have "Note that the werewolves are only two miles (3.22 km) from the capital region..." is presumably very helpful to the traveler. —Justin (koavf)TCM 21:35, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
I'm not debating the advantages of providing conversions. But (ignoring the fact that the conversion templates would, contra our guidelines, make it "2 miles" instead of "two miles") can't we just type "two miles (3 km)"? That's easier for newbies to understand and really no harder than getting the template syntax right. (And keep in mind I'm talking about new editors viewing our wikitext, not necessarily adding it anew.) Powers (talk) 23:46, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
I would think that looking at wikitext here that a template like {{convert}} would be one of the easiest to understand. (Note also that the template can output numbers as words or abbreviations versus spelled-out units, etc.--it is very flexible.) —Justin (koavf)TCM 00:45, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
I have to agree, I think it's a big help to provide this template. I do like the convert template for it's flexibility, such as being able to show either the abreviation or the full unit. It even seems to have a function to write out the numbers in letter (Template:Convert#Spell_out_numbers:_ten_miles) although that seems to be currently broken. I also think it's quite easy to understand. If I see {{convert|1|lb|kg}} or {{km|2}} I don't think this is hard to understand (as a matter of fact, I think I found out that this is possible after first seeing it somewhere when editing a page). And I also agree that it's okay if a new editor just writes it out without using the template.
Personally if I'm adding information to an article, I'm not going to go to manually add conversions to every unit I add as that's in my opinion not a very good use of the limited time I have to edit. But if takes as little effort as adding one of the templates above, then I (and probably other editors) will be more likely to consistently add conversions. Drat70 (talk) 01:12, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes. If you have to look up conversion charts or formulae to add the conversions it does take time (it also took me quite some time to learn to find them quickly). Although I now know how to translate between °C and °F, I do it manually only when I feel like training my math. The {{C}} & al are simple to use, while the convert template is certainly powerful, but less easy to learn. The only problem with having many such templates is maintenance, namespace pollution and somebody having to make them. Now that they are made I think they harm nobody (as long as the convert template is stable there is probably no maintenance burden). --LPfi (talk) 07:04, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't think that I'd want to tie this project to the convert template. It's what the devs call an "overloaded" template, and there's occasionally some talk about dropping support for all of the (few) overloaded templates. I don't know how serious that talk ever is, but it does make me wonder whether spreading the use of that template is such a good idea. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:11, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
You guys have to find a conversion table to convert "two miles" into an approximate number of kilometers? Sure, if we're talking about the height of Mount Everest in feet and meters that's one thing. But splattering our guides with convert templates for small, rough measurements like "two miles" seems excessive. Powers (talk) 02:32, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
I think it's useful for things where it actually matters. If it's "500 metres walk" then I agree, we don't need a conversion but for things such as driving distances, distances for hikes or especially temperatures, I think it might be a good thing to have rather exact conversions. Another thing is that you might overestimate the proportion of people outside the US which know approximate conversions. As those units are mostly only used in the US I don't think there's common knowledge of how much this is. I for one, can approximately convert km to miles (times 1.6) metres to feet (times 0.3), but ask me about gallons, pounds or even Farenheit and I have no idea. Whether this is done by the convert template or the simpler templates doesn't matter in the end, but I think we should have a convenient way of converting these without having to look it up. Drat70 (talk) 04:06, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
IMO looking it up isn't as difficult as it used to be. In Safari, if you type something like "12 km to miles" where the URL is, then it tells you the conversion. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:43, 22 September 2017 (UTC)


We don't seem to have a policy on the use of fractions, e.g. ½, ⅔, ¾ etc. It might be useful to have one so we know whether to write 1.5 miles, 1½ miles or 1 ½ miles. From a UK perspective, the middle option would be the most natural (but using decimal points with kilometres, e.g. 1.5 km). However, I would want to know what is more common in the U.S. as well. I notice Google Maps seems to use decimal points, rather than fractions, for distances in miles. So what does anyone think? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 15:33, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

  • 1½ miles or 1½ hours feels more approximate than 1.5 miles or 1½ hours, but I assume that that is what most writers intend (we don't often see 1.3 miles or 1.7 hours), and since 1½ is more reader-friendly, I'll switch to that when I'm copyediting. I don't switch to fractions for kilometres because I recall being told that the metric system discourages the use of fractions. (It also makes for an easy switch between units as 1.5 km is 1500 m.) I see no point in adding a space to 1½. I don't know how much we need a policy. Do we have a problem with fractions? We should discourage the use of "1 1/2" as that's hard to read. Ground Zero (talk) 15:43, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
    • I think we should have a policy for everything related to measurements. But your opinions are welcome, thanks. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 15:48, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
      • One issue is the readability of the fractions. I have no problem with the examples here, now, but I remember having avoided them because they have been difficult to read on the screen (hm, I had not, but I have now, with the font used for editing). The 5 in 1.5 is much bigger than the 2, 3 and 4 in ½ and ¾. --LPfi (talk) 16:07, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
        • That is true, they are a bit on the small side. However, in my eyes at least, ½ has a distinctive shape to it just like an individual character (a, 6, Σ) that allows the human eye to recognised it even when quite small*, and though this effect doesn't apply to irregular fractional amounts (e.g. ⅜), to me at least the same applies to ⅓, ⅔, ¼ and ¾, which along with ½ are realistically the only fractions we'll need. On the other hand, this would only apply to people who use fractions regularly, which I imagine is mainly imperial users.
*Interestingly, and tangentially, the same principle even applies to whole words; our brains recognise familiar words as a complete shape, rather than decoding each letter. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 13:42, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
I can see the point of discouraging the use of fractions other than ½, ¼, ¾. Ground Zero (talk) 14:51, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, actually I don't know why we would use thirds. Good point. ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 19:05, 8 June 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Something like:

Fractions: It's okay to use fractions for expressing numbers, e.g. for for hours or for measurements in the Imperial/U.S. system, but fractions should not be used for measurements in the metric system. Because fractions can be more difficult to read, it is best to stick with the most common, i.e., ½, ¼, and ¾, and use decimals for other numbers, e.g.,
  • 1½ hours, 2¼ miles,
  • But: 1 hr 20 min, 3.5 km, 1.67 feet (instead of 1⅓ hr, 3½ km, 1⅔ feet)

Does this make sense? Ground Zero (talk) 20:26, 8 June 2018 (UTC)

Wouldn't "1.67 feet" be 1' 8"? K7L (talk) 23:00, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
It could be. It doesn't have to be, does it? Ground Zero (talk) 23:05, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
It doesn't have to be, but it is what someone who measured in feet and inches would say. The rest of your proposed wording is good. ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:05, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Americans sometimes measure in tenths of a foot. (But there is no way they will be forced to used the metric system!) I don't get it, but they do. Google "tenths of a foot" to see how many results you get. Ground Zero (talk) 11:52, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Oh, okay. I barely understand the imperial system to be honest, just going on what my parents' generation says. At school, we're taught the metric system exclusively, and yet significant, if random-seeming measurements are conducted almost exclusively in imperial. Milk and beer are sold in pints; every other drinkable liquid is sold in litres. And petrol and diesel are sold in gallons, of course. It's insane. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 18:00, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
We're also along the continuum - we buy gas in litres, drive in kilometres, sweat or freeze in °C, but buy pounds of meat and apples, and I don't really know how many cm tall I am. Ground Zero (talk) 18:15, 9 June 2018 (UTC)

So, any more opinions on the above wording as proposed by our friend Ground Zero? If not, let's add it to the page. ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 13:56, 11 June 2018 (UTC)

Seeing no objections, I've implemented this. Ground Zero (talk) 11:52, 24 June 2018 (UTC)


Swept in from the pub

I have seen "kms" quite a bit in some articles. Now I know this is short hand for kilometers or kilometres, but to a scientifically inclined person it might come off as some nonsensical unit of distance times time (whatever the use of such might be). I think we should stick with formal plural of "km" which is - to my knowledge at least - "km". Hobbitschuster (talk) 11:55, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

Wikivoyage:Measurements#Length says: "Never use an "s" after a unit abbreviation to make it plural." Ground Zero (talk) 12:17, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
This should be obvious to anyone who finished primary school, though. The unit km s does not make any sense, but perhaps they might have meant km s-1 when referring to speed?
Wikivoyage editors who are too young to have learned this in school can remember it like this: units follow the same rule as Pokémon, i.e. the plural of Pikachu is Pikachu and not Pikachus. ArticCynda (talk) 13:13, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Or it could also be km s-2 when referring to acceleration. But back to the main point, yes, we never add "s" to the end of a unit abbreviation for plurals. It's always "km" regardless of whether it's singular or plural. By the way, the correct scientific abbreviation for hour is "h" and not "hr". That is something that also seems to be inconsistent between our articles. The dog2 (talk) 15:50, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Wikivoyage:Measurements#Duration says to use "hr". Should a travel guide use "correct scientific abbreviation", or an abbreviation that avoids ambiguity for travellers? In French-speaking areas, 9h30 means 9:30AM, so using "h" could cause confusion. Do you mean 9½ hours, or 9:30AM? Ground Zero (talk) 16:47, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
First of all, this is English Wikipedia, so I guess we can presume that any French or French-Canadian traveller reading this already knows English conventions. An you never write it as just 9h30. It's always 9h 30min, and in English the meaning of that is unambiguous (at least in Singapore, Australia and the U.S., though I'm not sure about Canada). But regardless, I don't really care what abbreviation WV decides to use as long as it's unambiguous and consistent. The dog2 (talk) 17:00, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
I wasn't around when "hr" was chosen, but I see so many different time formats, including foreign ones. I agree that it is best to avoid ambiguity. Ground Zero (talk) 17:09, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Speaking of which, using "ms" to mean "metres" cannot stand, as "ms" is the standard scientific abbreviation for "millisecond" (1/1000 seconds). That is something that can cause confusion if we are not consistent. The dog2 (talk) 17:12, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
We know from experience that we absolutely cannot "presume that any French or French-Canadian traveller reading this already knows English conventions" - editors from such areas constantly use the French time-telling format. If you mean that they'd understand the Anglo-American formats if they read them, then sure, but that doesn't mean they will use them when editing this site. As for "kms", the place on this site where I see that abbreviation (or "Kms" or "KMs" or "KMS") most often is in articles about India, so that abbreviation may be standard or at least the de facto default there. Ikan Kekek (talk) 17:59, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Bot running to fix. --Traveler100 (talk) 18:34, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
What is left is best done manually. --Traveler100 (talk) 21:18, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
The traveler comes first of course, so in their best interest WV should use the notation that is common/accepted in a geographic region, even if that means not using standard units. We're already doing this for regions that have yet to adopt the metric system, expressing values in their local units (like feet/miles/inches etc. instead of cm/m/km). But I find it hard to believe that "KMS" would be a common abbreviation for kilometre in India, perhaps someone with knowledge on the Indian situation can comment on that? ArticCynda (talk) 22:22, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As far as I know, the scientific abbreviations are standard everywhere, at least as far as scientific work is concerned. The dog2 (talk) 22:39, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

That's what I also assumed, but then the question remains where all those non-standard abbreviations keep coming from? Traveler100's bot found and corrected tons of them. These don't seem like random occurrences. ArticCynda (talk) 22:58, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
It is just coming from countries that have a large English population where people have a good awareness of the s for plural but not necessarily with technical/scientific background or knowledge of French influenced languages. Bound to see it more in India and Australia than in UK or Canada, and US articles tend to be in miles. --Traveler100 (talk) 04:33, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Changing "15 minutes maximum" (as estimated time to visit an attraction) from "15 mins max" to "15 min max" looks odd, as min/max could be minimum/maximum. K7L (talk) 05:29, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Do not think the bot could have done that change? --Traveler100 (talk) 05:37, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Or leave min away all together and use ' as symbol? For example visit time: 15' max. ArticCynda (talk) 07:51, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
The ' symbol is unfortunately not as well-known as the min abbreviation. In fact, I've only used it for angles, but never for time. And moreover, in the U.S. and the U.K., ' is also a shorthand notation for a foot (unit of length), so I'm concerned that it could be confusing. The dog2 (talk) 15:24, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
"Minutes" is not a long or technical word. 7 letters and 2 syllables. It could just be written in full to avoid ambiguity. Gizza (roam) 10:11, 12 July 2018 (UTC)


I wrote at User_talk:Ground_Zero#kilometres/kilometers that, instead of either kilometers or kilometres:

I think we should use "km" exclusively site-wide because it is shorter & avoids nonsense controversies about metre vs meter.

User:Ground_Zero clearly disagrees; see the above page. What do others think? Pashley (talk) 03:15, 14 December 2019 (UTC)

I think km is fine (maybe preferable) when used next to a numeral, but looks somehow too abbreviated (like a text message or personal notes) in phrases like "a few kilometers away" or "hundreds of kilometers". If I understand correctly, that seems to agree with what Ground Zero is saying. I don't think it's a big deal either way, though. —Granger (talk · contribs) 11:54, 14 December 2019 (UTC)
To me, the best solution would be to use "kilometer" in places using American English, and "kilometre" in places that use British English. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 18:45, 14 December 2019 (UTC)
For context, the example that started the discussion was "the new [bridge] will be several km long" vs "the new [bridge] will be several kilometers long". I agree with how Granger put it – I prefer it to be spelt out in contexts like that. Nurg (talk) 02:14, 15 December 2019 (UTC)
OK. I agree with the second option. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 13:02, 15 December 2019 (UTC)

This wiki uses the US styles of mL, so I think it should be either km or kilometers 16:35, 5 March 2021 (UTC)

Over-abbreviation; "min" vs "minutes"[edit]

Swept in from the pub

So this edit got me thinking. Is there any guidance on when to abbreviate stuff like "minute(s)"? And if so does it lean towards abbreviating? I think unlike paper guides we can "afford to" spell it out which in my opinion is more readable... Hobbitschuster (talk) 22:10, 14 January 2020 (UTC)

I'd abbreviate minutes "min", though in certain situations, that could get confused with "minimum", but I agree that there's usually no important reason to abbreviate that. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:20, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
Wikivoyage:Measurements#Duration says
"Always abbreviate units in listings.
hour = hr
minute = min"
Abbreviating in text is not required, so I guess it's optional. Ground Zero (talk) 22:27, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
I prefer the non-abbreviated version of minutes too. Wikivoyage:Measurements says to "always abbreviate in listings" though I think that only makes sense for the non-content parts of the listing. It's logical to shorten minutes to min in the "Directions" field but "Content" is prose and should read like prose. It's rare in English for minute to be shortened to min in a paragraph of text. Gizza (roam) 23:16, 14 January 2020 (UTC)
I agree with DaGizza. —Granger (talk · contribs) 01:19, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
Minutes is not unambiguous (e.g. "minutes of arc"). I thought there was high importance placed on keeping text short e.g. for viewing on a mobile phone. It was one of the reasons given why addresses cannot be complete and thus cannot be pasted into a mapping application. Most of the time we (as a world) seem to manage fine with the abbreviated form. Cases of ambiguity would be few and far between and obvious so only then use the unabbreviated form PsamatheM (talk) 12:45, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
Actually, I was merely trying to streamline the article, because some had the long and some the short minutes format. But go ahead correcting the min to minute in proper text paragraphs. But for short information and listing where the information is essential, e.g. "Get in", I really believe it helps to give the traveller the information right away instead of beating it around the bush using unbearable prose. Cheers Ceever (talk) 18:56, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
I definitely agree with your last sentence, Ceever. If we're listing multiple journey times in 'Get in', then "1 hr 40 min" is infinitely preferable to "one hour and forty minutes". Otherwise, I agree with the Geezer.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 19:54, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
In the case of 1 hr 40 min, shouldn't it be 1:40 ? PsamatheM (talk) 15:07, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
Not according to our time and date formats policy. Personally, I find our recommended version clearer than what you suggest, but here is not really the place to argue for that change (that would be Wikivoyage talk:Time and date formats).--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 15:20, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
Yijes. Yikes Do you mean 1:40AM or 1:40PM? Or are you using 1:40 to indicate a duration? How would the poor reader know? I think IRS gets it's best to follow wv:tdf and use "1 hr 40 min" to avoid confusion. Ground Zero (talk) 19:29, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
I think we're in agreement, but can you proofread your posts please? What's IRS? What's Yijes? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 20:48, 16 January 2020 (UTC)

Using digits instead of words[edit]

This guide uses digits instead of words for measurements, e.g. it shows "6¾ mi (10.9 km)", and not "six and three quarter miles (10.9 km)". I would like to add the following next subsection as the first subsection in order to clarify that when it comes to measurements, digits are usually preferred:

Use digits
When expressing a quantitative measurement, digits are usually preferred over words, e.g., "6¾ mi (10.9 km)", and not "six and a quarter miles (10.9 km)". This does not apply to idiomatic uses, e.g. "a million years ago", "a day or two", "walking a mile in someone else's shoes", where the words are preferred.

Ground Zero (talk) 16:16, 28 April 2020 (UTC)

I personally find it more natural to use fractions with miles (e.g. 6 ½ miles), rather than decimals. As long as the above is just an example to show numbers instead of words, and doesn't become the prescribed way of always doing things, I'm good with your suggestion.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 16:22, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
The policy does say that fractions are okay with Imperial measurements, so I have adjusted the examples accordingly. Ground Zero (talk) 16:26, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
Excellent stuff. Shame the converter doesn't like fractions. --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 16:28, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
I support this policy proposal because it supports our use of conversion templates. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 17:00, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
Do we need a policy on this? I don't remember having seen numbers by words of the type given in the example, in fact I don't remember ever feeling this would be a problem. I prefer giving editors the freedom to use words when they see fit, leaving other editors free to change into digits, when the words add nothing in particular. --LPfi (talk) 17:47, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
This has come up Talk:Buffalo-Pittsburgh_Highway#Distances_in_words. Our motivation should be what serves the reader, rather than what editors feel like doing. Otherwise, why have a manual of style? Ground Zero (talk) 17:57, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
The policy would encourage users to change those words into conversion templates. Which reminds me, instead of recommending digits shouldn’t we refer to the templates? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 18:05, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
How would that reflect the traditional usage of fractions with Imperial measures? The templates can't handle fractions. I think the policy permits the use of templates. Ground Zero (talk) 18:31, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
Importantly, such a policy would put Wikivoyage at odds with the vast majority of style guides (including Wikipedia's and that of most other WMF sites), which prescribe that numbers one through ten (or sometimes one through nine) be spelled out in words, and digits only used for 11 and up. That being said, I support a policy mandating digits in listing templates only, where we have traditionally been more willing to depart from the conventions of proper prose for the sake of brevity and/or clarity. I don't think the conversion template is an important concern; in fact, Wikivoyage has generally seen widespread usage of templates as a hindrance to contributions from users who have important information to share but who aren't well-versed in MediaWiki markup, and has consequently been reluctant to endorse the use of templates where it's not absolutely necessary to do so. And I think that's solid logic, especially given the fact that the vast majority of the world is fully on board with the metric system, which in most cases renders conversion unnecessary in the first place. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 19:01, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
Wikivoyage is a travel guide. Other Wikimedia sites are not travel guides. We should set our style based on what serves our readers best. Distances and travelling times are important to travellers, and expressing them in numbers is the clearest and most effective way doing so. Using an informal style, rather than "the conventions of proper prose", is a core element of Wikivoyage's style. Ground Zero (talk) 19:32, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
Conversion templates are not difficult to use; they are difficult to create. However, the purpose of conversion templates is to include accurate conversions in a uniform format. Without conversion templates, it's harder to create statistics in both systems and create them in the proper format. The templates should be designed for fractions, but if not, decimals are little different from fractions and easier to comprehend, and more in line with the metric system.
To return to the topic here, I don't see the benefit of words in a travel guide. I haven't thought about it before, but now I do, I think that we should stick to numbers to make an easier policy for new editors to follow. The exception in writing numbers 1 to 10 as words is more complex and unnecessary in a travel guide. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 20:35, 28 April 2020 (UTC)
I prefer numbers for measurements, and I think using words is something that American style guides are more likely to favour than British ones. I dislike measurement expressed in a mixture "the walk sections are between five and 15 miles". However words can be used for counts of things, particularly when the things being counted have measurements - "the tent has five 2m poles" AlasdairW (talk) 22:30, 28 April 2020 (UTC)

I think numbers are clear and effective, and should be used where they are important as such, as in listings. In prose however, good text flow is often more important than easily grasping the numbers. "The journey takes around four hours" is easier on the eyes than "...takes ca 4 hr" (or "about 4 hours"), and the number does not need to stand out, as it is meaningless without the rest of the sentence. That's why I'd like editors of individual articles to make the judgement call. Exact rules are hard to get right. The "five to 15" is a nuisance, coming from following simplified rules in absurdum. We have similar recommendations in Swedish, and in school symmetry between corresponding values was the number one rule, the "less than ten" was a floating guideline. --LPfi (talk) 10:24, 29 April 2020 (UTC)

Revised proposal[edit]

This discussion has been open for more than a week, and there have been no recent comments. I think there is consensus that numbers are generally preferred to words, but it isn't a strong consensus. Here is a revision that softens the language further:

When expressing a quantitative measurement, digits are preferred over words in the following cases: in listing templates, where fractions are involved, for numbers over 10, where conversions (e.g., metric/Imperial) are being provided, or where it is useful for the reader to have the numbers stand out. For numbers ten and under, words or digits can be used. This does not apply to idiomatic uses, e.g. "a million years ago", "a day or two", "walking a mile in someone else's shoes", where the words are preferred.

@ThunderingTyphoons!, AndreCarrotflower, SelfieCity, AlasdairW, LPfi: (and anyone else who would like to weigh in) comments? Ground Zero (talk) 19:15, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

I still think we do better without specific rules on this. It has not been a problem, and if it is about the one article, it can be solved for that one article. The more specific the rules, the more odd cases they have to handle specifically. Up to ten – can't I say a dozen, twenty, or a hundred? I could think of some reasoning about the "cases" above, reminding the wikivoyager about points to think of, but this is stated as a rule, although not a hard one (just "preferred" – but why doing it in one way if the other is preferred?). --LPfi (talk) 19:10, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
Because many editors are more comfortable with guidelines that provide flexibility for circumstances that aren't foreseen when the guidelines are set. As in the cases of other rules, where an exception is made, the person who wants the exception can be expected to provide an explanation on the article's talk page if someone questions it. The guidelines provides a "most cases" norm in order to guide contributors and avoid time spent arguing over personal preferences. Ground Zero (talk) 19:22, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
All good.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 19:28, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
In Swedish Wikipedia we have had problems with editors doing small changes in a lot of articles, such as replacing an old sounding word with a modern one (often ignoring the general style). It is not feasible to "provide an explanation" on all those talk pages. It was something similar I was afraid of with the now postponed project of inserting conversion templates. Being forced to "defend" one's stylistic choices is not something that is good for a wiki. It is much better if the community respects your choices and you respect others making other choices, also for "your" articles. Declaring one style "preferred" forces the author choosing otherwise to watch the article and defend that choice, instead of writing and moving on. If we have no rule, others can still make stylistic changes, but the risk of somebody making a project of reverting other editors choices is smaller.
So: provide advice, and guidelines where needed, but don't make up rules where not needed. (Is there a need for these rules? Is it just about that one article?)
--LPfi (talk) 19:55, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
I take on board what you're saying, but doesn't the same apply to our entire manual of style? We have writing and formatting standards on Wikivoyage that we have built up over time, and this proposal is no different.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 21:37, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
I think it is good to have a coherent style, at least when it comes to information that should be easy to pick up, as in listings. For the prose, rules are detrimental for the lively style we aim for. Only when rules are needed should they be introduced. If we had a coherent style in which we write our itineraries, giving the distances in a coherent way makes sense, and if there were an example in the itinerary template, it would probably have been followed in the article we kind of discuss here. Now we are still trying to find out how itineraries are best written (until recently we had only a few), and making up rules in advance is counterproductive. This is not a standard we have built up over time, but rather somebody having seen something that didn't please his eye and trying to extrapolate a general rule from that. We see it is not mature, as there are lots of problems in the suggested wordings (the "eight to 12" for one). Let's wait and see whether there is something on which having a rule actually serves us in any way. --LPfi (talk) 22:20, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
We've had itineraries since 2004, and now we have well over a hundred, including this one I started and filled out in 2017. This is not something new. Most of the people who have commented above seem to think that digits are preferable to words in prose in most cases. I didn't propose this because it "didn't please my eye", but because through extensive work in Wikivoyage, I have observed that digits are the norm. This new itinerary is an outlier, especially since it goes the extra step of spelling out fractions. Digits are simply more effective is conveying information about measurements. This is still a travel guide, not a novel or a treatise. Ground Zero (talk) 11:26, 8 May 2020 (UTC)
Wikivoyage has had itineraries long before I joined, but look at the itinerary template! If we want a coherent style we could describe a few common kinds of itineraries in a guideline. Now our guideline gives little advice, except for naming and for what kinds are (not) acceptable.
Most people do prefer digits in most cases, and use digits in most cases. We don't need rules telling the sun to set in the evening. We need rules on common edge cases, where the best thing to do is non-obvious – and doing otherwise makes the guide significantly worse. And we don't need them for one article.
--LPfi (talk) 12:23, 8 May 2020 (UTC)
Where I've come across numbers spelled out in measurements or over ten or with fractions, I've been changing them to digits because it's the Wikivoyage norm (or "obvious"), so it's not "just one article" (just as itineraries aren't a new thing). It's not uncommon. AndreCarrotflower disagrees that I should be doing this, citing style manuals. How is this to be resolved? Ground Zero (talk) 12:32, 8 May 2020 (UTC)
I suppose that that's what everybody is doing, like correcting spelling mistakes and simplifying roundabout language – when reading an article and seeing digits are better in that very context. We already have two rules for that: plunge forward and the traveller comes first. For this one author, wanting to have "his" articles in his style may or may not be reasonable, but if it is getting personal it is best to leave the issue to others. --LPfi (talk) 12:53, 8 May 2020 (UTC)
I usually push back against the idea of article ownership, because that really does put the writer first, not the traveller. In this case, which is an excellent one-person project by someone who has objected strenuously to my edits in the past, I stepped away for the prose for the most part, and concentrated on the formatting. My concern about formatting is that it becomes a precedent. If you leave it alone in someone's pet project, other contributors follow and point to that article as justification for doing it that way. The words/digits things isn't a big deal, but since Andre was citing other style guides, I think it's best that the Wikivoyage community decides what it wants its style to be. Ground Zero (talk) 21:29, 8 May 2020 (UTC)
I don't think LPfi is ever going to get on board with this, which is okay, because consensus does not mean unanimity. As there have been no other comments or objections, I believe there is consensus for the revised proposal. Ground Zero (talk) 03:01, 26 May 2020 (UTC)
From a technical perspective following the norm of measures in digits allows for the use of templates to maintain and convert for local preferences even rendered in a visitors preference of measurement representation and allows for a tailored user experience. This means all fractions would need to be converted to decimal for the template, but that is just simple math which a template could handle ie add fractional part to the convert template so to represent the whole number and fractional number for conversion and add parameters for presentation format. I personally prefer measures to always be in numeric form even in text. Any fraction can be presented in a decimal form and rendered in text or fraction by the template. This would also assist with longer term localization of articles. The convention then could be to use the template and have it convert to the user's local preference. If all measure were presented in a template the only discussion then would be needed would be what would the default representation need to be rather than if a measure should be written as text or numeric.Wolfgang8741 (talk) 09:20, 28 June 2020 (UTC)


Geez, more people need to go read w:Template:Convert. Of course it supports fractions! You just have to enter them using "+" to indicate the fraction: {{mi|2+1/4}} will output "2 14 mi (3.6 km)". (The "+" is used because "-" would be interpreted as a range, e.g. 2–5 mi (3.2–8.0 km). I'm not sure why it doesn't allow spaces, but no matter.) It can even output fractions, but you have to use an extra parameter in Template:Convert for that, rather than our shortcuts: 100 kilometres (62 18 mi).
I agree that on WV numerals are preferred over words (at least more than style guides usually recommend). I recall this being WV policy for a long time, on the basis that listings should be concise (the same reason we abbreviate street names and times/days/months), and that per wv:tone we don't want to follow a stiff style of formal academic writing on WV. I would include that reasoning in the explanation of the rule, if we do add such a rule to this policy page.
Personally, I don't like the American style of defaulting to words from one to ten except in certain cases; I think for consistency and to draw attention to numbers when they're important as numbers, numerals or words should be chosen according to how you're using the number:
  • Used as a measurement of anything = numerals (Example: "Fuel up before coming to this destination because the closest gas station is 9 miles ahead." "In Manhattan there are 6 long blocks to a mile.")
  • Used to count things = words (Example: "There's one block downtown that has eleven statues to look at.")
  • Used in an idiom = words
As a scientist and engineer, that's how I tend to treat numbers in my own writing. There's still a little leeway (are "blocks" a unit of measurement, or a thing you count?) but I think it's usually an easy rule to apply, unlike the standard rules which can be quite complicated (just look at how long w:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers#Numbers as figures or words is, including the numerous "notes and exceptions" which in most styles guides are simply part of the rules). I think a similar kind of rule for us would work well, and would be a bit simpler than the list of specific usages in User:Ground Zero's proposal. Speaking of which, I don't think it should be limited to just listings and the few other situations mentioned; I think numerals are perfectly fine in prose if they're being used to give a measurement. Numerals stand out compared to mostly-lowercase text, and that's great for drawing the reader's eye to important facts. --Bigpeteb (talk) 22:38, 4 September 2020 (UTC)


@Martinvl: I removed the mountaineering example:

"Another area where travellers will see both metric and imperial units is mountaineering - mountaineers use metric units, but newspapers tend to use imperial units."

I suppose that was about the UK, as newspapers over here wouldn't use feet for mountain heights. And I don't really understand for whom it is important to follow local press on mountaineering issues – the ones who need the info would get it from fellow mountaineers and those servicing them, who would use metres (but don't they use feet in the USA?).
LPfi (talk) 09:32, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

Yeah, I don't really understand what newspapers have to do with anything. Newspapers in the UK use imperial for everything height or distance related, not just mountains, because of the mixed system in use.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 09:51, 4 December 2020 (UTC)
In the UK both feet and metres are used in the hillwalking side of mountaineering. In 1891 Sir Hugh Munro published a list of Scottish hills over 3000ft, which are now called the Munros. A significant number of walkers "collect" Munros (& Corbetts over 2500ft), seeking to ascend all 282 mountains. So the height in feet is of significance, although the map will show the height in metres. I wouldn't be surprised if walkers used both feet and metres when talking about a walk in the pub. AlasdairW (talk) 16:00, 4 December 2020 (UTC)
Most British maps (including OS maps) measure mountains in metres. However I believe this is an American wiki and I don't know what they do over there. 16:39, 5 March 2021 (UTC)
Although the servers are in the USA, content is international, as are the contributors (although there is a concentration in USA). –LPfi (talk) 19:57, 5 March 2021 (UTC)

My edits were reverted[edit]

Some of my edits to this page were reverted, feel free to check them out and put some of them back if you want to. 17:43, 5 March 2021 (UTC)

I reverted them because I've never seen these abbreviations used. We should not be advising contributors to use abbreviations that are not commonly used, especially when they are for such short words. It is easier for readers if contributors just spell them out. If you disagree, you can explain why here, preferably with evidence the "dy" and "mth" and "LT" are commonly used. (I doubt that travelers are going to encounter long tons anyway.) Ground Zero (talk) 18:40, 5 March 2021 (UTC)
@Ground Zero: Most baby clothes in the UK are measured in mths. 17:10, 12 March 2021 (UTC)
So if that's the only use, then we can conclude that "mths" are not commonly used in situations where travellers will encounter them as buying baby clothes in the UK is not a common activity for travellers. Wikivoyage is designed as a travel guide focused on information for travellers. It is not a compendium of all knowledge. We have very Wikipedia for that. Ground Zero (talk) 17:46, 12 March 2021 (UTC)
@Ground Zero: Oh I see, thanks. Surely you could argue the same for yrs though. 17:57, 12 March 2021 (UTC)
I see "yr" used frequently in admission fees for museums, parks, etc., or transit fares, as concession rates are often offered to those "65 yr and older", "13-17 yr", or free for those "under 6 yr". I would say that's very common in Wikivoyage. Ground Zero (talk) 18:04, 12 March 2021 (UTC)
surely it can't be that hard to put months compared to mths which looks more like moths than months. SHB2000 (talk) - The year of the 2000 Sydney Olympics 09:46, 13 March 2021 (UTC)