Don’t abbreviate the word million. Spell it out.
Many people want to abbreviate million, but it opens the door to confusion.
For example, I asked Google for guidance on how to abbreviate million here. As you can see, that got me pages full of conflicting search results.
Abbreviation for Million
When business people read reports and recruiters read resumes, it’s common to see this — $1M.
While recruiters love to see numbers on resumes, they also like them to be accurate (more here) and make sense.
When they see $1M, many readers have no idea if the writer means $1,000 or $1 million. That’s a considerable difference ($999,000, to be exact).
Let’s say you’re talking about sales growth of $1 million. If you use $1M, some of your readers might think sales grew $1,000 instead of $1 million. You go from being a hero to an underperformer without knowing it.
Numbers produce anxiety and confusion in many people. Help them by making your quantifications crystal clear.
If you’re talking millions, use the word — $1 million.
If you’re working on your resume and are desperate for space, use $1MM. It’s understood that “MM” means million. But no, wrong! See the comments below. “MM” won’t work for UK readers. It can mean “billion” there.
ChatGPT likes M, but also suggests mil, MM, and mrd. As you can see, confusion reigns. In one iteration I ran, it acknowledged that “million” provides the most clarity.
Abbreviation for Thousand
If you’re talking thousands, use the number: $1,000.
A single “M” can mean either thousand or million, so that doesn’t work.
Again, if you’re desperate for space, use $1K for $1,000. Most people understand that “K” means thousand. If they don’t, they can Google it and get a straight answer (I checked).
But why use an abbreviation your readers have to Google?
Abbreviation for Billion
Spell it — $250 billion.
Click here to find samples that show you how to present large numbers on your resume.
Read the comments below for more information, plus global insights, on how to abbreviate thousand, million, and billion.
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Thank you Donna. In the UK some people use MM to mean billion so it’s good to avoid the double M.
Here’s the problem with that strategy though…in certain professions, such as online advertising, you’ll look like a complete idiot if you don’t use M and MM. In those cases, I think you ought to write for your hiring manager rather than the recruiter.
In the metric system (used by all but 3 countries – google to see which countries the US keeps company with) ‘k’ is the abbreviation for kilo – Greek for thousand, ‘M’ is for mega – million, ‘G’ is for giga – most of the world now uses ‘billion’ but some places still use ‘thousand million’, ‘T’ is for tera – trillion (which is what I read the abbreviation MM to mean). If all else fails use scientific notation.
Good missive, Donna! The idea is to communicate effectively. Make your stuff an easy read for someone who is bored silly by all the other stuff they have skimmed before seeing what you have to offer. The resume is the bait and how you write it is part of the hook to reel in the interview. As for spelling it out, of course you spell it out! – Your resume is like a mirror in that it reflects aspects of how you approach detail and significance. A recruiting specialist looks beyond the surface scribe for telltales. Like how you write, what you accomplish in a few words, tact, respect for the reader and dignity. Or so I have been told. Someone else suggested using the “M” with a line over it to mean multiply by 1000, but I think that is a stretch for most recruiters in the field today and it may not translate correctly with the OCR software. Choose wisely, and when you get that job then hire me – I’ve been out on UPTO, but as the pilot says in that famous movie, “… hello boys! I’m Baacck!”
k, m and M are standard international metric abbreviations for thousand, thousandth and million
Very well explained.
Thank you for your kind words.
Thank you C.R. Donna
We do look beyond the surface for the tell. Thank you Jefferson. You’ve led me to my next blog post. Donna
Thank you Grant. I’m sticking with “spell it” unless it makes you look clueless in your particular subculture (see comment above). Then use your subculture’s conventions. This is a fun topic. Or I’m just a geek. Or both. :) Donna
Always write to your audience. If your industry/profession has a clear convention, and you understand it, use it. If you don’t understand it, research it. If you get it wrong, you won’t look necessarily like a complete idiot, but it will damage your first impression. Sometimes a lot. Thank you, AF, for this refining point! Donna
So good to know John. Thank you! Spell “million” and “billion” out y’all.
I worked for a very large FMCG company and we used 5M = 5,000 and 5MM = 5,000,000. The logic was that M is the roman numeral for 1,000. So 5MM is 5 thousand thousand. It took a little getting used to but it kind of makes sense. Mind you we didn’t go as far as saying 5C for 500! :)
It does make sense.
I used those abbreviations until I wrote this blog post and read all the comments. Since then, I have spelled million because it seems as though the opportunity for confusing readers is pretty high.
By the way, what does “FMCG” means?. I am so tired of trying to “decode” such king of abbreviations: “Workef for the KDDG playing the role of DDA Analyst. ODT abilities and working knowledge in PD/AA systems…..
I understand. FMCG = fast moving consumer goods. Thank you for asking.
I worked for a large American chemical company, and they also used this confusing terminology. I thought we abandoned roman numerals for industry and commerce once the zero had been invented in India. Apart from historical uses (e.g. clocks, classical dating), we should eliminate any roman numeral remnants from our thinking, now that we have adopted in 1963 I think the SI system / units.
Trevor, I loved the history lesson! Thank you, Donna
I would read $100mm as $100 million. However, someone in a different country (I’m in the US) or a particular industry might interpret it differently.
Beyond that, if you have a young HR professional doing the first review of your resume, they might not understand it all.
Thank you for asking,
so what is “$100mm?” please
How would you write out large numbers (for currency)? I’m confused whether to write 2.5 billions USD or 2.5 billion USD?
I would write US$2.5 billion.
Thanks for asking!
How would your write this large number 1 987 532 100 876 (for currency) in “billones” de bolivars (Venezuela currency)?
That looks like 1.99 trillion, or 2 trillion, to me.
ugh just use mil. that can work if you don’t have space
Helpful space saving idea.
As a lawyer dealing with large numbers in email and such, its always $5k for $5,000 and $5m for $5,000,000. I looked this up because a banker used a $5MM abbreviation and I had no idea what he was saying.
On the other hand, when writing a complaint or other pleading, its always “five thousand dollars ($5,000).”
Usage is everything. History is bunk.
Your comment, “I had no idea what he was saying,” is the best argument for not abbreviating I’ve seen.
Good comments about common usage in the US and other countries — and the emphasis on clear communication being the standard.
Communication is the goal. Best to understand your audience. In the US banking industry, using M as an abbreviation for thousand and MM for a million is standard (at least based on my 30 years of experience). Using M for million in that industry could be misleading.
How can MM or a million million will be a billion? That is MM = 1,000,000×1,000,000= 1,000,000,000,000 =trillion
That’s why I encouraging spelling “million.”
Different countries and industries have different conventions. Not all of them make sense to me either.
Avoid confusion, don’t abbreviate it, spell it.
Thanks for chiming in!
Extremely informative!! Thank you for always giving great insight into important topics Donna! Candidly, for my resume clients who are lawyers and hybrids (general counsel and executives), I use M for million, and K for thousand. It is mostly to save space and for easy readership. I really appreciated the insight and comments from others.
Thanks for chiming in.
Spelling million, billion, and trillion out helps non-financial readers understand the resume more easily.
Thanks Donna! Oil and gas standard is “$MM,” but if you have the room, always better to spell it out.
You’re welcome. It’s funny, I’m always able to make room to spell these words out. Probably because I have a bag full of space-saving tricks for writing resumes. ;-)
Thanks you, Donna, for the explanation from a few years ago. I just found this because I hadn’t a clue was $1MM meant in an advertisement.
I’ve been working technical projects and the associated mid level budgets in a US federal agency since 1987 and I don’t believe I have ever seen that notation. Informally we use K for a thousand and M for a million.
Learned something today. Thanks.
I’m glad my post (including all the wonderful comments!) was helpful.
I am an old HR professional and I have never seen MM used. I just happen to google it since I saw it on a letter the VP asked me to proof. My suggestion is, lets decide what we are going to use globally so everyone understands and leave it at that so there is no confusion.
First, global unity on how to abbreviate million and then on to other issues. Love it!
Honestly I think global unity is very unlikely. We can’t even agree on what a billion is numerically let alone abbreviated. (see attached regarding the long system vs the short system.) And before everyone gets upset just remember these numbers existed well before the war of independence.
That’s wild. An even better reason to spell billion out! Thank you for the share.
WORST ADVICE EVER.
Do you even work in business?
I’ve worked in banking, PE and now for a large pharma. “M” is NEVER confused for thousand. What world do you live in?! When writing and reading documents e.g. CIMs, presentations, we ALWAYS abbreviate million and billion.
Thank you for sharing your perspective.
Really helpful advice, Germaine.
I work with German and English (as a translator) and there is plenty of room for confusion, so I am all for solutions that make things extra clear.
Well… consider yourself added to my blogroll. I have like six other blogs I read on a weekly basis, guess that number just increased to seven! Keep writing!
When i was in the CPG industry we used MM to represent millions as you stated. That was the last time I saw MM. In tech , media, and other industries I worked and conversations with recruiters and all the incoming resumes we see everyone uses M = millions. If we write MM none of our clients know what that means and they think we made a goof. We gave up defending MM a long time ago. We use M to represent millions and K for thousands. While you are correct, I feel most of industry writes it as M.
Because conventions vary between industries and regions, I like spelling million, billion, and trillion out.
This is incredibly dumb. just use k for thousands and m for millions! SIMPLICITY!
Well, in the U.S. and France, a billion equals a thousand millions, e.g., 1,000,000,000; in Great Britain, Canada and Germany, a billion equals a million millions, e.g., 1,000,000,000,000. So an American trillion equals a British billion.
So even spelling the word out won’t eliminate all ambiguity.
Living in the U.S., I’m inclined to regard m as a thousand and mm as a million, and to treat m and M as the same (unlike the Economist style guide). And after reading this post, I think your advice to avoid abbreviating million is worth taking.
I’d think we would have managed to standardize this globally by now, but that’s not the case.
Thanks a million (or a billion!) for weighing in.
Donna, context is important.
1. If I am reading information that uses K, M, and B to abbreviate thousands, millions and billions, respectively, then no ambiguity;
2. If I am reading information that is only using “Mn” and there is no other reference, I interpret that as a million. No reason to interpret Mn a thousand;
3. If I am reading information that uses “M” as number abbreviation and there is no other reference or context, God help us!
Context minimizes ambiguity, but when in doubt, spell it out (at least partially). :-)
Hi, just to be more confusing, when it comes to numbers, some countries use different decimal symbols.
In Dutch for example, 1.000 is a thousand, and 1,000 is one with three significant digits.
Match the numbers to the language you’re writing in/for, which can include where you place the currency symbol – see eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currency_symbol
Thanks for an interesting article!
Good point! Thank you for adding it.
Great tips for abbreviating million on your resume! I’ll definitely be following these tips.