Last reviewed: 17 Sept 2021

Content guidelines

Numbers, dates and time

Using consistent numbers, dates and time helps people understand numeric information.

Numbers

Use numerals instead of words for numbers. Using numerals makes web content easier to scan according to research by Nielsen Norman Group.

However, write out ‘first', ‘second’ and so on up to 'ninth’. After that use 10th, 11th and so on.

For example,

Co-op Live is the UK’s first purpose-driven arena.

The Co-op Dairy Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Commas and apostrophes

Use commas for numbers over 999. For example, 1,000.

Plural numbers do not need apostrophes, so write ‘1,000s’ not ‘1,000’s’.

Fractions

Write fractions out in full, so ‘half’ or ‘three quarters’, except in recipes where you should use numbers such as ‘½ tsp’.

Millions and billions

Abbreviate millions and billions when you’re writing about money, so ‘£23m’ or ‘£4bn’.

When you’re not talking about money, spell out millions and billions, so ‘2 billion people’.

Money

For pound sterling, use the £ symbol. For example, £75.

Write out pence in full where possible. For example, ‘calls will cost 4 pence per minute from a landline’.

Do not use decimals unless pence are included, so £75.50 but not £75.00.

Where something interacts with a backend system, for example on an ecommerce website or in a Co-op store, using decimals is acceptable. In marketing materials though, you should use 99p or £1.

Write currencies in lower case.

Check the advice about numbers (commas and apostrophes) for amounts over 1,000.

Phone numbers

Split phone numbers into three chunks (the area code, where possible, followed by a split of the other numbers). This makes them easier to read and remember.

For example:

  • 0161 123 4567
  • 020 7123 4567
  • 01204 123 456
  • 07765 123 456

Include:

  • the area code for landlines
  • information about call charges and opening times

Dates

Follow the date format 'Monday 14 June 2021'. Use only as much description as needed - you do not need to include the day or year every time if it’s obvious from context.

If you’re referring to date ranges, then use ‘to’ rather than hyphens or dashes. For example, January to March.

Avoid all references to annual quarters. Instead, write the dates in full: ‘This offer is valid between 1 October and 31 December 2018.’

Use numerals and write out decades in full, so 1970s not ‘70s.

Time

Use the 12 hour clock, so ‘9am to 5pm’. If you need to include the minutes, write ‘9.15am’.

Use ‘midday’ rather than noon, 12noon or 12pm. Use ‘midnight’ and not ‘12am’.

Do not use midday or midnight where it could be confusing. For example, if there is a deadline to submit an application form, consider using '6 July 2018, 11.59pm' rather than 'midnight'.

It’s not necessary to specify time zones, such as ‘1pm GMT’.

Changelog for this page

Date Notes
17 Sept 2021 First version of page published

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