Numero sign

Numero sign

The numero sign or numero symbol, (also represented as , No, No. or no. (US English),[1] or No or no (UK English) plural Nos. or nos. (US English) or Nos or nos UK English [2]), is a typographic abbreviation of the word number(s) indicating ordinal numeration, especially in names and titles. For example, with the numero sign, the written long-form of the address "Number 22 Acacia Avenue" is shortened to "№ 22 Acacia Avenue", yet both forms are spoken long.

Typographically, the numero sign combines the upper-case Latin letter N with a usually superscript lower-case letter o, sometimes underlined, resembling the masculine ordinal indicator. In Unicode, the character is U+2116 NUMERO SIGN (HTML №).[3]

The Oxford English Dictionary derives the numero sign from Latin numero, the ablative form of numerus ("number", with the ablative denotations of: "by the number, with the number"). In Romance languages, the numero sign is understood as an abbreviation of the word for "number", e.g. Italian numero, French numéro, and Catalan, Galician, Portuguese and Spanish número.[4]


The numero sign, despite its widespread usage internationally, is not a standard alphabetic symbol in virtually any European language.


In English, the abbreviation "No." of "numero" is often used in place of the word "number". In American English the hash # is used as a prefix to designate numbers, and at the end of a number to designate pounds in some publications.[5] In online usage, the hash may cause complications because of its usage for hashtags and HTML anchors, a complication not present with the numero sign (thus the numero sign can be used in places the hash cannot).


The numero symbol is not in common use in France and does not appear on a standard AZERTY keyboard. Instead, the French Imprimerie nationale recommends the use of the form "no" (an "n" followed by a superscript lowercase "o"). The plural form "nos" can also be used.[6] In practice, the "o" is often replaced by the degree symbol (°), which is visually similar to the superscript "o" and is easily accessible on an AZERTY keyboard.


The numero sign is not typically used in Spanish, and it is not present on standard keyboard layouts. According to the Real Academia Española[7] and the Fundéu BBVA,[8] the word número (number) is abbreviated per the Spanish typographic convention of letras voladas ("flying letters"). The first letter(s) of the word to be abbreviated are followed by a period; then, the final letter(s) of the word are written as lower-case superscripts. This gives the abbreviations n.o (singular) and n.os (plural). The abbreviation "no." is not used, because it might be mistaken for the Spanish word no (no). Furthermore, nro. and núm. are also acceptable abbreviations for número.


The use of subscript letters is a standard option on Portuguese language keyboards, usually in their underlined version, both in their masculine (o) and feminine (a) variations. The masculine variation is regularly used combined with the letter 'n' in reference to number ('no') or together with a number to indicate ordinal numbers (for example: '1o', '2o', '3o', which is the equivalent to '1st', '2nd', '3rd' [sic] in English); the feminine version is used mainly with cardinal numbers when sequencing feminine elements (for example, when referring to first, second and third placed female athletes in a competition: '1a', '2a', '3a').


The sign is usually replaced with the abbreviations "n." or "nº", the latter using an ordinal indicator, rather than a superscript 'O'.[9] Similar superscript is also used for primo 1º and prima 1ª, secondo 2º and seconda 2ª, terzo 3º and terza 3ª, etc.


Although the letter "N" is not in the Cyrillic alphabet, the numero sign (№) is typeset in Russian publishing, and is available on Russian computer and typewriter keyboards.


Because of more than 300 years of Spanish colonisation, the word 'numero' is part of almost all of the languages in the Philippines. 'No.' is common in both English and local languages' written forms.

Indonesian and Malaysian

"Nomor" in Indonesian and "nombor" in Malaysian; therefore "No." is commonly used as an abbreviation with standard spelling and full stop.


In Lithuanian the abbreviation Nr. is used instead. It is usually capitalised in bureaucratic contexts, especially with the meaning 'reference number' (such as sutarties Nr., 'contract No.') but in other contexts it follows the usual sentence capitalisation (such as tel. nr., abbreviation for telefono numeris, 'telephone number').

Typing the symbol

On typewriters and computers that do not support this symbol, it is acceptable and commonplace to replace it with the trigraph "No." (letter "N", letter "o", and a period (full stop)).

On typewriters and computers that support the degree symbol or (preferably) masculine ordinal indicator, a digraph starting with "N", such as "N°" or "Nº", may suffice as a substitute for the numero sign, but only if it is to be presented exclusively within visual media, in a typeface and sizing that results in a passable approximation of the numero sign. Such digraphs are inappropriate for representing the numero sign in computer data, in general.

On Russian computer keyboard layout, the № is available and often located on the 3 key.

In Mac OS X, the character can be typed using "U.S. Extended" and "Irish Extended" keyboard layouts by typing ⇧ Shift+⌥ Option+;.

In X11 systems with a compose key, the character can be typed using Compose, ⇧ Shift+N, O. Alternatively standard XIM style can be used: Ctrl + ⇧ Shift + u, 2, 1, 1, 6, ↵ Enter.

In HTML, the numero sign (if it cannot be entered directly) may be represented by № or №.

Technical considerations

The Unicode Standard states:[10]

U+2116 NUMERO SIGN is provided both for Cyrillic use, where it looks like [semi-cursive "N" followed by raised, underlined small "o"], and for compatibility with Asian standards, where it looks like [angular "N" followed by raised, underlined small "o", followed by a period]. …Instead of using a special symbol, French practice is to use an "N" or an "n", according to context, followed by a superscript small letter "o" (No or no; plural Nos or nos). Legacy data encoded in ISO/IEC 8859-1 (Latin-1) or other 8-bit character sets may also have represented the numero sign by a sequence of "N" followed by the degree sign (U+00B0 degree sign). Implementations working with legacy data should be aware of such alternative representations for the numero sign when converting data.

See also


  1. "no. or No.". The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  2. "nos. or Nos.". The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  3. "№ - Numero Sign (U+2116) symbol, character, icon, html: - Letterlike Symbols - Unicode character table".
  4. "Oxford Dictionaries - Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar".
  5. Machinery's Handbook 21st Ed
  6. Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l’Imprimerie nationale (in French). Imprimerie nationale. 2002. ISBN 978-2-7433-0482-9.
  7. "Abreviaturas". Real Academia Española. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  8. "número, abreviatura". Fundéu BBVA. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  9. "La corrispondenza italiana: abbreviazioni". Retrieved 2010-05-17.
  10. "The Unicode Standard 5.0 — 15.2 Letterlike Symbols" (PDF). The Unicode Consortium. 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-11..

External links

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