In the guide

This guidance is for England, Scotland and Wales

Metric units

If you are indicating units of weight or volume, only the permitted abbreviations (symbols) can be used. These are shown in the table below.

Unit of measurement Symbol
metre m
centimetre cm
millimetre mm
square metre m2
cubic metre m3
litre l or L
centilitre cl or cL
mililitre ml or mL
tonne t
kilogram kg
gram g
milligram mg

Vulgar fractions are not permitted (unless it relates to a fraction of a pint). For example 500 g cannot be expressed as 1/kg.

If the word 'net' is used it cannot be abbreviated.

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Supplementary imperial units

Imperial units can be shown as well, but they must not be more prominent than the metric indication. The permitted units are shown in the table below.

Unit of measurement Abbreviation
gallon gal
quart qt
pint pt
fluid ounce fl oz
pound lb
ounce oz

Except where the law and trade practice dictates otherwise, liquids should be marked with a volume (ml or L for example) and other products by weight (g, kg, etc). 

Under the Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987, quantity indications must be easily visible, legible, and indelible; they must also be of a minimum height, depending on the pack size.

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Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.

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Key legislation

Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987

Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006

Food Information Regulations 2014

 

New guidance: April 2020

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.

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Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

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Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.

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