Why Is “Number” Abbreviated “No.”?

You may have seen the word “number” abbreviated in several ways and wondered why it is often abbreviated as “No.” This page looks at the various abbreviations for the word “number” and shows how they are used in contextual examples.

Why Is “Number” Abbreviated “No.”?

The word “number” is abbreviated to the short form “No.” because the abbreviation comes from the original Latin term “numero”, meaning “by the number”, which contains an “o.” There are various versions of the abbreviation, where the “o” is represented slightly differently; however, these variations are purely stylistic.

Why Is “Number” Abbreviated “No.”

The abbreviation “No.” is the most common way of abbreviating the word “number.” However, the letter “o” at the end of the term can vary slightly in how it is represented, and you will often see the abbreviation listed as one of the following:

  • No
  • No
  • No.
  • no

The word “number” can also be abbreviated by the letters “Nr”, although this is primarily used in the UK, especially in the construction and building materials industries.

Keep reading to learn more about the correct ways to abbreviate the word “number” and their usage


“No.” is the 2-letter abbreviation that represents the word “number” and is commonly used worldwide. In the USA, it is customary to put a period at the end of the term; however, this practice is less common in the UK.

Furthermore, there are different ways that the abbreviation “No.” can be represented, by varying the type of “o” included at the end. All these variations essentially still say “no.”, despite the different use of the “o.” There is no change in meaning, although some terms are used slightly differently on occasions.

The difference in the “o” in modern English is basically a style issue, and there is no massive difference between them. However, if you start with one version in a text, then you should use the same version throughout.

Here is a breakdown of each term:

  • № – The symbol for “numero.” Commonly used in titles and names.
  • N– The symbol for “numero.” Commonly used in titles and names.
  • No – The version used most commonly in the UK, without a period.
  • No.  – The version used most commonly in the USA, with a period.
  • no – A typographic variation of “No.”

Here are some examples of the abbreviation “No.” in context:

  • Please only answer either question No.1 or No.2. You do not need to answer both.
  • We would like to order 10,000 pcs of No. 2545 from your catalogue.
  • You did not answer question No. 3 even though the instructions told you to do so.
  • Scroll through the list of products, and if you see any Nos. that we are short on, please order replenishments.


The abbreviation “Nr” can be used to represent the word “number”, and it is a slightly more modern version than the traditional “No.”

However, the abbreviation “Nr” is rarely seen in English outside the UK. Even in the UK, it is primarily used in the construction and building industries to represent different numbered materials or components.

Furthermore, this abbreviation is common in other European languages such as Dutch, Danish, and Polish, so there will obviously be some crossover of usage into English, despite “No.” being the more common abbreviation.

Here are some examples of the abbreviation “Nr” in a sentence:

  • We sent a shipment with Nrs. 156, 167, and 176. However, we don’t have any Nr. 565, so we will have to send it next week.
  • I would like to make an order for ten pieces of Nr.299, shown on your website.
  • Do you still stock product Nr.24, or has it been discontinued?

Should You Abbreviate Number?

It is prevalent and standard to abbreviate the word number with either “No.” or “Nr.” although it is most commonly done when referring to a list of items such as products. There is no difference between the different forms and styles of abbreviation for “number”.

However, the term “Nr.” is more common in the UK and Europe than in North America and is often seen in correspondence relating to construction and building.

When speaking in a general sense, for example, about a “great number of things” or mentioning the word “number” in a typical sentence, it is less common to use abbreviations, and people generally prefer to use the entire term.

Common Usage of Number Abbreviations

The time when the abbreviations “No.” and “Nr.” for the word “number” are used the most is when referring to a list of items, such as products, or when referring to a list of numbered questions on an exam.

It is far more unlikely that you would see the abbreviation being used for something that doesn’t appear in a numbered list. For example, referring to “a large number of things” or “numbers” in general, it is far less likely that people would use the abbreviation.

Final Thoughts

The abbreviation of “number” is most commonly “No.” in the USA and “No” in the UK. The reason it has an “o” is that the term is derived from the Latin “numero”, which contains an “o”. However, the “o” variations do not change the term’s meaning.