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.

Metric measurements
Unit of measurement Symbol
Metre m
Centimetre cm
Millimetre mm
Square metre m2
Cubic metre m3
Litre l or L
Centilitre cl or cL
Millilitre 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.

Back to top

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.

Imperial measurements
Unit of measurement Abbreviation
Yard yd
Foot ft
Inch in
Square yard sq yd
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. Under the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006, they must also be of a minimum height, depending on the pack size.

Back to top

Trading Standards

For more information on the work of Trading Standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading Standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.

Back to top

In this update

Extra units added to imperial measures table.

Last reviewed / updated: November 2023

Back to top

Key legislation

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

Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006

Food Information Regulations 2014

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 often only shows 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 changes to legislation can be found by following the above links and clicking on the 'More Resources' tab.

What type of feedback would you like to leave
1a-User type
2a-User type
3a-User type
4a-User type

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.

How many years have you been trading?
How many employees are there in your business?

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.

Are you satisfied? Did this site answer your question?