Writing with SI (Metric) UnitsSP 811 provides an editorial checklist for reviewing manuscripts' conformity with the SI and the basic principles of physical quantities and units. PrefixesSome of the metric units listed above include prefixes such as kilo, centi, and milli. Prefixes, added to a unit name, create larger or smaller units by factors that are powers of 10. For example, add the prefix kilo, which means a thousand, to the unit gram to indicate 1000 grams; thus 1000 grams become 1 kilogram. SpellingAll units and prefixes should be spelled as shown in this guide. ConversionsConversions should follow a rule of reason: do not use more significant digits than justified by the precision of the original data. For example, 36 inches should be converted to 91 centimeters, not 91.44 centimeters (36 inches x 2.54 centimeters per inch = 91.44 centimeters), and 40.1 inches converts to 101.9 centimeters, not 101.854. Capitals
Plurals
PronunciationThe pronunciation of common metric units is well known, except for pascal, which rhymes with rascal, and hectare, which rhymes with bare. The first syllable of every prefix is accented, not the second syllable. Example: KILLohmeter, not kilLOMmeter. Incorrect TermsThe prefix "kilo" stands for one thousand of the named unit. It is not a standalone term in the metric system. The most common misuse of this is the use of "kilo" for a "kilogram" of something. The word "micron" is an obsolete term for the quantity "micrometer." Also "degree centigrade" is no longer the correct unit term for temperature in the metric system; it has been replaced by degree Celsius. SpacingA space is used between the number and the symbol to which it refers. For example: 7 m, 31.4 kg, 37 °C. When a metric value is used as a onethought modifier before a noun, hyphenating the quantity is not necessary. However, if a hyphen is used, write out the name of the metric quantity with the hyphen between the numeral and the quantity. For example:
Spaces are not used between prefixes and unit names nor between prefix symbols and unit symbols. Examples: milligram, mg; kilometer, km. PeriodDO NOT use a period with metric unit names and symbols except at the end of a sentence. Decimal PointThe dot or period is used as the decimal point within numbers. In numbers less than one, zero should be written before the decimal point. Examples: 7.038 g; 0.038 g. Note: This information is published as NIST LC 1137, Metric Style Guide for the News Media. To request a hard copy, please contact the Metric Program. TimeThe SI unit of time (actually time interval) is the second (s) and should be used in all technical calculations. When time relates to calendar cycles, the minute (min), hour (h), and day (d) might be necessary. For example, the kilometer per hour (km/h) is the usual unit for expressing vehicular speeds. For More Detail: Detailed metric information and precise conversions are available in NIST SP 811 and SP 1038 PDF. SP 811 also provides an editorial checklist for reviewing manuscripts conformity with SI and the basic principles of physical quantities and units. It is available by calling the NIST Metric Program at (301) 9753690 or email. International Paper SizesThe International System of Units (SI) is about measuring the weight or dimensions of objects, not changing their sizes. The U.S. paper industry uses several customary paper formats that all have metric dimensions. Any object weighed or measured using the SI has a metric size (e.g., a typical page of office paper is 215 mm by 280 mm), just as the same object measured using customary units has a size (8.5 in by 11 in). While the standardization of sizes provides some benefits by simplifying things, the process of standardization is independent of the system of measurement. 
Related LinksBecoming Familiar with SIEveryday EstimationMetric in SportsWriting with SI (Metric) UnitsCooking ResourcesNIST SP 330  The International System of Units (SI)NIST SP 811  Guide for the Use of International System of Units (SI)NIST SP 1038  Conversion Factors for General UseNIST Offers U.S. Interpretations of Recent SI (Metric) Change
