[texhax] Units in technical writing

Gordon Haverland ghaverla at materialisations.com
Thu Dec 29 02:05:19 CET 2011

On December 28, 2011, Bob wrote:
> I'd like to ask a related question on what is the appropriate
> way to typeset units. Italic? Space between number and unit?
> I've never been able to find an authoritative style guide.
> Thanks,
> Bob

On December 28, 2011, Boris wrote:
> GH> From: Gordon Haverland <ghaverla at materialisations.com>
> GH> Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2011 16:56:21 -0700
> GH> I'm in the habit of \usepackage{isotope} now.  Is there a
> similar GH> package which allows for nicely typesetting values
> with units GH> (possibly with error estimates)?
> I'd suggest siunitx package, which allows nice things like
> \SI{3}{\meter\per\second}, \SI{6.2e3}{\kilogram}, 
> \si{kg.m.s^{-11}}, \SI{2+-0.1}{s} and many, many more

I have never heard of the SI unit x package.  Probably something 
to work at.  I go along with Bob, wondering if there is a style 
guide about this?  Sure, I have known that I could force roman 
typeface and thin, regular or whatever spaces.  But it always 
seemed clunky.

For example: line breaking.  If I have $3 m/s$ in my source, do I 
want to allow a linebreak between the 3 and the unit?  I know that 
if I see a line break in the middle of the unit (here m/s) I 
should do something to change the linebreak.

I think there is a reason to typeset units slightly different from 
regular text.

He did something for 1 second.

He did something for the second time.

If "second" is typeset slightly differently in the first case, a 
person gets reinforcement that a unit of measurement is involved.

Where I run into something similar, is that if I am talking about 
elements, I will do something like

The lead (Pb) is the major component of the battery plate.

The word "lead" is just too ambiguous and has different 
pronounciations depending on context.  And by appending (Pb) I 
hope to avoid much of this ambiguity.  Mind you, it does depend on 
people knowing that the periodic table abbreviation for lead is Pb 
({\it plumbum}).

And I still will look into the siunitx package.  Thank you for 
your ideas.


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