Tutorial:Symbols and abbreviations

From Statistics Explained

Expressing values in euro

There are a number of rules to be followed in official Commission publications (see in particular the OPOCE style guide). The full term ‘euro’ is used when there is no direct reference to the amount, e.g. in table/graph footnotes (such as ‘The euro became the new currency for 15 Member States’. In English and German, the term euro (German: Euro) is never written in plural. In French, a plural ‘s’ is added (euros). In English and French, euro starts with a lower case letter, in German with an upper case letter. If there is a reference to an amount, the ISO 4217 code of euro ‘EUR’ is used (such as ‘EUR 30’).

EUR (or €) is the measuring unit. In English, ‘EUR’ (or the euro sign ‘€’) is placed before the figure, separated by a (non-breaking) space, e.g. EUR 30. In French and German the order is reversed, e.g. 30 EUR. Note also that English uses the singular of terms such as million if they relate to a currency such as EUR 10 million. In French 10 Mio EUR and 10 Mrd EUR (without full stop) are used while German uses 10 Mio. EUR and 10 Mrd. EUR (with full stop). Try to avoid the term billion in all languages and replace it, if possible, by 1000 million, because the term means something different in (American) English (109) compared to German and French (1012). If it cannot be avoided, ‘bn’ may be used as an abbreviation for billion, but ‘mn’ should be avoided for million, as it has another meaning in the ISO system.

Spelling and use of euro and EUR 

EN FR DE
Use of EUR with figures EUR 30 30 EUR 30 EUR
Use of euro in text the euro, l’euro, der Euro,
without figures the euro (plural) les euros (plural) die Euro (plural)

Codes and meaning of EU and EA aggregates

Code Meaning
EU European Union (if used as an aggregate it should comprise all Member States at the time to which the data refers) In French tables/graphs, the term ‘Union Européenne’ should also be abbreviated by ‘EU’. In texts, the term may also be abbreviated by ‘UE’. In German, the abbreviation is the same as in English and stands for ‘Europäische Union’.
EU-28 the 28 Member States of the European Union at 1.7.2013: EU-27 + Croatia (HR)
EU-27 the 27 Member States of the European Union at 1.1.2007 (BE, BG, CZ, DK, DE, EE, IE, EL, ES, FR, IT, CY, LV, LT, LU, HU, MT, NL, AT, PL, PT, RO, SI, SK, FI, SE, UK)
EU-25 the 25 Member States of the European Union from 1.5.2004 to 31.12.2006 (EU-27 minus Bulgaria and Romania)
EU-15 the 15 Member States of the European Union from 1995 until 30.4.2004 (BE, DK, DE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, AT, PT, FI, SE, UK)
EU-12 the 12 Member States of the European Union from 1986 until 1994 (BE, DK, DE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, PT, UK).
EU-10 the 10 Member States of the European Union from 1981 until 1986 (BE, DK, DE, EL, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, UK) . However, and in contrast to the OPOCE style guide, sometimes ‘EU-10’ is used in other EU publications for the new ten Member States that joined in 2004. To avoid any misunderstanding it is recommended to not use this term with one or the other meaning. If usage cannot be avoided, a footnote should be added to explain the meaning.
EU-9 the 9 Member States of the European Union from 1973 until 1980 (BE, DK, DE, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, UK).
EU-6 the 6 Member States of the European Union from 1957 until 1973 (BE, DE, FR, IT, LU, NL).
euro area (EA) If used as an aggregate, it should comprise the members of the euro area at the time to which the data refers. 'EA' is the abbreviation of 'euro area'. If enough space is available, the long name 'euro area' should be used. In case where it would be beneficial to save space 'EA' might be used. In French, euro area is called ‘zone euro’ and in German ‘Euroraum’.
EA-11 the 11 countries of the Euro area before 2001 (BE, DE, ES, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, AT,PT, FI).
EA-12 the 12 countries of the Euro area from 2001 until 2006 (BE, DE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, AT, PT, FI).
EA-13 the 13 countries of the Euro area from 1.1.2007 (BE, DE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, AT, PT, SI, FI).
EA-15 the 15 countries of the Euro area from 1.1.2008 (BE, DE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, CY, LU, MT, NL, AT, PT, SI, FI).
EA-16 the 16 countries of the Euro area from 1.1.2009 (BE, DE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, CY, LU, MT, NL, AT, PT, SI, SK, FI).
EA-17 the 17 countries of the Euro area from 1.1.2011 (BE, DE, EE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, CY, LU, MT, NL, AT, PT, SI, SK, FI).
EA-18 the 18 countries of the Euro area from 1.1.2014 (BE, DE, EE, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, CY, LU, LV, MT, NL, AT, PT, SI, SK, FI).

In standard tables and graphs, only the newest aggregates (currently EU-28 and EA-18) should be used. Previous aggregates are acceptable if data for the newest aggregates are still incomplete.

For more information please see Interinstitutional style guide, Annex A3: Abbreviations, symbols and contractions in common use at http://publications.europa.eu/code/.

Statistical symbols, abbreviations and units of measurement

It is good practice to not overload tables with too many flags, which make it difficult for readers to grasp the main data patterns within tables quickly. In any case this depends also on the readership of a SiF. In case of SiFs targeting statistical experts it might be important to include more flags than in SiFs targeting the public. It is always possible to refer readers to the Eurostat website for more detailed information.
Important flags that should not be omitted include breaks in series and forecasts. Obviously, empty table cells should be omitted. Therefore, flags for not available and confidential data should be always included. However, it is questionable whether estimates need always to be flagged. Attention should be paid to avoid erroneous flags such as an estimate flag for an EU aggregate while related country values, of which the EU aggregate is composed of, are marked as estimates.

Eurostat standard flags
-  (or z) not applicable
 : not available (1)
0 real zero
0n less than half of the final digit shown and greater than real zero
| or b break in time series
c confidential
d definition differs, see metadata
e estimated value
f forecast
i see metadata (phased out, where necessary: replaced by d)
n not significant
p provisional value
u low reliability (2)

In publications and in Statistics Explained, '-' should be used instead of ':z' and '|' instead of 'b'. Also, italics can be used instead of 'p' and 'e' provided that the meaning is explained somewhere in the publication or in the Statistics Explained article.

Coding conventions

0 = real zero

The flags 'c' and 'z' are meaningful only when combined with the special value ': = not available' (':c', ':z').

The flag 'n' is only meaningful when combined with the special value ': = not available' (':n') or with '0' ('0n = less than half the final digit shown and different from real zero').

The flags 'e', 'f' and 'p' are only meaningful when combined with a statistical value.

The flags 'b', 'd' and 'u' can be combined with a statistical value or with ': = not available'.

(1) Never use NA or ND, or other variations to indicate data not available.

(2) For obvious reasons this flag should be used with extreme care.


Units of measurement  (1)
mm millimetre
cm centimetre
m metre (use m2 not sq. m)
km kilometre (use km2 not sq. km)
mg milligram
g gram
kg kilogram
t tonne
grt gross registered tonnage (shipping)
ml millilitre
L, l litre
hl hectolitre
ha hectare
s second
kW kilowatt

(1) Units do not have points after their symbols, are not closed up to figures and take no plural.

Standards for dates

The time axis in graphs should be labelled in a commonly understandable form. One of the following alternatives should be used:

  • months: April 2009, Apr 2009 or 4/2009;
  • quarters: 4th quarter 2009, 2009Q04

Selected world currencies

ISO currency code (1) Currency name (6) Country / area of use
EUR (2) euro Member States of the euro area
BGN lev (pl. leva) Bulgaria
CYP Cyprus pound Cyprus
CZK Czech koruna (pl. koruny) Czech Republic
DKK Danish krone (pl. kroner) Denmark
EEK kroon (pl. kroonid) Estonia
GBP pound sterling United Kingdom
HRK Croatia kuna (inv.) Croatia
HUF forint (inv.) Hungary
LTL litas (pl. litai) Lithuania
LVL (7) lats (pl. lati) Latvia
MTL Maltese lira (pl. liri) Malta
PLN zloty (pl. zlotys) Poland
RON (3) new Romanian leu (pl. lei) Romania
ROL former Romanian leu (pl. lei)
SEK krona (pl. kronor) Sweden
SIT tolar (pl. tolars) Slovenia
SKK Slovak koruna (pl. koruny) Slovakia
MKD denar (pl. denars) Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
TRY (4) Turkish lira (inv.) Turkey
CHF (5) Swiss franc Switzerland
ISK króna (pl. krónur) Iceland
NOK Norwegian krone (pl. kroner) Norway
CAD Canadian dollar Canada
JPY Yen Japan
USD US dollar USA


(1) This is the ISO code 4217. Note that the codes are listed in alphabetical order (except for the euro and the country groupings). The first two letters of this code correspond to the ISO country codes. pl. stands for plural. (2) The euro replaced the ecu (ISO code = ECU) on 1 January 1999 as well as 12 Community currencies on 1 January 2002. (3) The new Romanian leu (RON) entered into circulation on 1 July 2005. The former leu (ROL) will remain in circulation until 31 December 2006 (RON 1 = ROL 10 000). (4) The former Turkish lira (TRL) remained in circulation until 31 December 2005. (5) The Swiss franc is also the official currency of Liechtenstein. (6) pl. = Plural. (7) The euro replaced the lats on 1 January 2014.

See also

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