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The numero sign or numero symbol ("No.", "", or "") is used in many languages to indicate ordinal numeration, especially in names and titles. For example, instead of writing the long "Number 4 Maple Avenue," one could write with the numero sign "No. 4 Maple Avenue" and pronounce it as if it is written out in full.

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, there is a numero sign character, U+2116, intended for use in Cyrillic writing and for compatibility with East Asian encodings.

According to the OED,[1] the term is from the Latin numero, which is the ablative form of the word numerus (meaning "number", with the ablative meaning "to/by/with the number"). Similar forms exist as the word for "number" in Latin-derived languages: numero in Italian, numéro in French, and número in Spanish, Galician, Catalan and Portuguese. The Finnish word is also numero. It is not a standard alphabetic symbol in all European languages; for example in German, the abbreviation (with full stop) for "number" is "Nr." (Nummer).


Usage in different languages

In Spanish the numero sign is not a single symbol, but merely the word "número" abbreviated per the language's typographic convention of the superior letters (Spanish: "letras voladas", "flying letters" or "voladitas", "little flying letters"), wherein the final letter(s) of the abbreviated word are written as underlined lower-case superscripts: no and No (singular), nos and Nos (plural). Other flying letter examples are: "Fco" for "Francisco"; "Ma" for "María"; "fdo" for "firmado" ("signed"). The substitutive form "No." is unacceptable because it might be confused for the negative particle "no". The numero sign is also used as indication of an ordinal number, "1o" "primero" (first), "2o" "segundo" (second), "3o" "tercero" (third)…

Portuguese follows very similar rules to the ones described for Spanish. N.o and n.os for "número" or "números". As in Spanish "No." cannot be accepted because it may be mistaken for "no" (a contraction of "em" and the masculine singular definite article). The superscript-underlined o (o) can also be used in contrast to a to indicate the gender a certain title corresponds to: Prof.a = female professor or teacher whilst Prof.o (more commonly only Prof.; without the flying "o") would mean a male professor or teacher.

Italian old typographic convention for abbreviations used to be similar to the Spanish one, but has been almost totally abandoned, except for the numero sign; the sign itself is mostly replaced by the abbreviations "n." or "nº", the latter contains the ordinal sign.[2]

In French the № also means "number" (numéro), and can be written in several ways, with or without superscript letters, underlining, or a period. Note that "no" (a particle in English) is not a word in French, unlike in English, Italian or Spanish; examples: №, no., No

Although the letter "N" is not in the Cyrillic alphabet, the numero sign is typeset in Russian publishing, and is in Russian computer and typewriter keyboards.

In English the abbreviation "No." of "numero" is often used in place of the word "number". In US English the number sign, "#", is frequently used instead.

Typing the symbol

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

On typewriters and computers that support the degree sign 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 keyboards, № is often located on the "3" key; replacing the "#" sign on a US keyboard.

In Mac OS X, the character can be typed using "U.S. Extended" and "Irish Extended" keyboard layouts by typing shift-option-; (semicolon).

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

The Unicode Standard states:

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 interworking with legacy data should be aware of such alternative representations for the numero sign when converting data.[3]

See also


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