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The use of zero when recording data.

The use of zero when recording data.

The use of zero when recording data.

My colleague and I were having a bit of a back and forth on the use of a Zero in front of a decimal.
Lets say your print callout is .324"+.005" and your measurement is .326". Are both .326" and 0.326" acceptable when recording results?

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I always put a zero in front of the decimal point.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I always do too, but there are standards that cover this so if you're talking about notes on the face of a Drawing, it's best to see either what standard you're required to adhere to or if your organization has not adopted a specific standard they might have produced a Drawing Office Standard of their own.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Digital Factory
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I find that omitting the zero can lead to people ignoring it. It is too easy to read the decimal as a period. "The ball is round .375 inches OD" as "The ball is round. 375 inches OD". "The ball is round 0.375 inches OD" removes that risk. This has happened to me 3-4 times in a very long career with many tens of thousands of pages of written work, so I won't say it is ubiquitous, just easily avoidable.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Over the years I've learned the rigor of effective communication and always put the leading zero. If the purpose is accurate communication, this is very explicit.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Spoken, usually. Written, always.

Although mistaking a comma for digital grouping when it's meant as a decimal point is much more of an issue.


RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I have always felt strongly that omitting the leading zero is very poor practice, particularly in hand writing. As the writer, why make the reader have to guess as to whether it is a decimal point, period, or a fly speck? I do not recall, but I believe I was taught this in grade school.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I agree completely with 0.375.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Are battering averages and probabilities, supposedly always less than 1, an exception?

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Sorry! I mean batting averages.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Agreed with the above regarding the use of a zero in front of a decimal point. With respect to significant digits, ASTM International standard E29 is a good read, assuming that you want to ZERO onto that (decimal)POINT.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I never capitalize common nouns and I always place a zero in front of a decimal value less than unity.


ípapß gordo ainÆt no madre flaca!

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Thank you everyone for all the replies. I will also review ASTM International standard E29.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Frosty777, are the drawings to ASME Y14.5? My -1994 edition address this issue section 1.6.

For metric you have the leading zero, inch dimensions do not have the leading zero.

However, you're talking about recording inspection results not preparing a drawing.

I would tend to match the drawing but can't say if that's explicitly correct.

ANSI B4.4M-1981 Inspection of Workpieces (or newer equivalent) may clarify if you work to that.

Given that the OP's units are clearly inches I'm not sure why anyone pointed him to metric specs.winky smile

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RE: The use of zero when recording data.

I am new to the forum.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Certainly ensure a zero is inserted, but don't forget that nowadays, in standards at least, a comma is favoured over a fullstop, ie 0,324.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

The use of a period (aka full stop) vs. a comma is simply a geographical thing and has nothing to do with standards; some standards will use the period, others will use the comma.

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

Roughly 50-years ago my dad built an all metal homebuilt aircraft, Thorp T-18. I was privilaged to know John Thorp [JT], the designer, for +20 years. What amazed me was JT's particular hand writing style for engineering correspondance.

General numbers were always hand-written as a whole number followed by a decimal point + a .0 [point-zero] or significant decimal inch digits, followed by a graphical unit indication, EX: 25.0-in# or 25.033-in, etc.

If the general number was less than one, he always preceded the decimal with a 0. [zero-point], followed by significant decimal digits, followed by a graphical unit indication, EX: 0.50-gal or 0.993-#, etc.

NOTE. JT's only exceptions to this rule were...

(1) 'quantity'. JT specified whole quantity numbers in [brackets]... or on rare occasions, the whole number was followed by a '-ea', EX: [33] [12] or 33-ea or 12-ea
(2) 'sequence'. JT specified whole numbers separated by commas, IE: ... 41, 42, 43 ...

Here where JT's hand writing became a 'signature writing style'... unmistakeably his!

When he has writing general sentences/paragraph 'prose' [for lack of a better term], he always concluded EACH sentence with a tiny( x ) [subscript x], EX...

Recommended max gross weight ground operations at 2200-# x Taxi speed shall be limited to 15-MPH (fast run) x Turning speed shall be limited to 5-mph (fast walk) x All braking must be done without any turn rate (straight ahead) x Inflate tires to maximum recommended pressure +10-PSI x

Regards, Wil Taylor

o Trust - But Verify!
o We believe to be true what we prefer to be true.
o For those who believe, no proof is required; for those who cannot believe, no proof is possible.
o Unfortunately, in science what You 'believe' is irrelevant. ["Orion"]
o Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. [Picasso]

RE: The use of zero when recording data.

David is quite right - the use of the comma as the decimal marker is certainly not used in all standards. Its main use is over in Europe, specifically with EN and adopted ISO standards. One reason why it is specified by ISO is to avoid confusion with subclause references where the stop is standard. My apologies for any confusion

RE: The use of zero when recording data.


I have done the same thing with the replacement of 'full stop' with an 'x' and seen others do it for similar reasons, I assume. I did it when working in an environment where I knew my notes or handwriting would be photocopied, possibly repeatably. A simple "dot" can very easily be lost during photocopying, and depending on the writing instrument, can possibly not show up on the original very well. Make an 'x' would force a bolder full stop, and would force even the worst of ink pens and pencils to leave their mark, rather than a simple "dotting" action. I've seen some make a very small circle. Maybe it ties in with whichever preference the person has when playing tic-tac-toe. :)

NX8.0, Solidworks 2014, AutoCAD, Enovia V5

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