Units of measurement
16 November 2023
The correct abbreviations (symbols) to use when indicating units of length, weight or volume for trading purposes
This guidance is for England, Scotland and Wales
If you are indicating units of weight or volume, only the permitted abbreviations (symbols) can be used. These are shown in the table below.
|Unit of measurement
|l or L
|cl or cL
|ml or mL
Vulgar fractions are not permitted (unless it relates to a fraction of a pint). For example, 500 g cannot be expressed as 1/2 kg.
If the word 'net' is used it cannot be abbreviated.
SUPPLEMENTARY IMPERIAL UNITS
Imperial units can be shown as well, but they must not be more prominent than the metric indication. The permitted units are shown in the table below.
|Unit of measurement
Except where the law and trade practice dictates otherwise, liquids should be marked with a volume (ml or L, for example) and other products by weight (g, kg, etc).
Under the Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987, quantity indications must be easily visible, legible and indelible. Under the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006, they must also be of a minimum height, depending on the pack size.
For more information on the work of Trading Standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading Standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.
IN THIS UPDATE
Extra units added to imperial measures table.
Last reviewed / updated: November 2023
- Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987
- Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006
- Food Information Regulations 2014
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on changes to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.
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