A Matter of Degree

Some people use the lower case letter O in a superscript font to express degrees of temperature, latitude, longitude, angles and API gravity.

Don’t. Use the degree symbol instead.

In Microsoft Word, you can click on Insert, then click on Symbol, and then a little Periodic Table of the Symbols pops up in a new window. (Yes, I used to be a chemist in a former life.)

The Degree Sign is character code 0080 from the Unicode (hex) or ASCII (hex) or character code 176 from ASCII (decimal), and you can type that in the box if you have trouble locating the ° in the table. Then click on the Insert button, and voila! A bona fide degree symbol appears in your text where you left your cursor.

Now, a couple more pointers about using the degree symbol:

1)  There is no space between the number and the degree symbol, or between the degree symbol and the F, C, or API. Nor is there a space on either side of the degree symbol in latitude/longitude expressions such as 42.98°N, 77.98°W (my home town!)

2)  Temperatures in metric Kelvin units do not use a degree symbol. Kelvin is written K and not °K, and it does have a space after the number and before the K

Example: Absolute zero is 0 K or -273.15°C.


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