In a table, I would like to use abbreviate the word number. The column heading is namely:

Number of items

In what is the correct abbreviation for the word “numbers”? both "No" and "#" are suggested as abbreviations. The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.) in §10.43 also suggests "No". However, I am not sure these abbreviations are meant to be used with cardinal numbers.

Question: What is the correct abbreviation of number in this context?

  • My guesses are: "Nb of items", "# of items", "No of items".
    – ebosi
    Jun 12, 2017 at 21:28
  • 1
    If the suggested abbreviations are not short enough, you could do "# items" or "No. Items". Any of these should be sufficiently clear with some surrounding explanatory text.
    – David
    Jun 12, 2017 at 21:31
  • 3
    Maybe just "items," since "number of" can be inferred from the table
    – user2768
    Jun 13, 2017 at 12:19

2 Answers 2


My suggestion would be to use #. The hash symbol is commonly used this way; in mathematics it's even used to denote the cardinality of a set, i.e. the number of items in a set.

Having said that, I think abbreviating it as No. is perfectly clear if your usage is along the lines of No. of x. If you think your audience will be more familiar with one of the two, go for that.


Although, both No. and # are widely understood as abbreviations of "number (of)" and are absolutely correct answers, with respect to table headers another possibility could be to express it as Item count.

This has the added advantage of having the object of that column first, thus if you're performing data processing of any kind on the same table, anywhere where the column headers are listed in alphabetical order, it will display next to other columns, such as Item rate, Item date, Item group or anything similar.

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