Share this content

Full stops in accounts

Full stops in accounts

Didn't find your answer?

On reviewing a few sets of accounts recently I have noticed a trend to remove full stops from both written text and decimal points within numbers. They have been replaced by a spaces. This means sentences appear to run into each other but more crucially it changes the meaning of the numbers.

For example the Report of the Directors contained the following statement.

XXX raised an investment of £9 9m in the form of XXX rather than

XXX raised an investment of £9.9m in the form of XXX.

In my view this is at best misleading and at worst plain wrong.  I needed to check the primary financial statements to understand the context of this and understand the amount of money that had been raised when it should have been obvious from the Report of the Directors. 

Do any of you out there know why this is happening?  It seems to affect accounts signed off by auditors big and small.

Replies (13)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By DMGbus
30th May 2013 13:43

Particular software package?

My guess is that it might be some bad default in a particular accounts software package.

Personally I haven't yet seen a set of accounts lacking full stops between sentences (yet).

Sage Accounts Production, as an example does NOT contain this omitted full stops defect (yes I regard missing full stops as a defect).  So there is at least one software product (Sage Accounts Production) that fails to exhibit the stated defect.

Perhaps some software house is now using fairly young programmers who have been taught in the modern school concept of "grammar and spelling is relatively unimportant".  Which adds to some rule makers (CCAB and their ilk?) in recent years seemingly trying their best to make accounts unintillegible by maximising notes and putting reserves movements as a note separate from the Profit and Loss Account (and omitting comparatives into the bargain). 




Thanks (1)
Replying to lionofludesch:
By DMGbus
30th May 2013 13:57

Ignore the EC

What a load of nonesense.

If there really is an EC directive on punctuation (I hope Hugh Jego is joking!) then I for one will ignore it.

We have more than enough of this EC garbage.

If there really is such an idiotic EC directive on punctuation I wonder how long before a prosecution follows for common sense accounts that "illegally" include UK punctuation?

Thanks (0)
By Brend201
05th Jun 2013 11:15

This irritates me enormously too and I hope it is not a fashion/trend.  There is another possibility.  Were you looking at accounts that had been downloaded from Companies House?  If so, I suspect that the quality of the scanned image might be the explanation.  I have just looked at two sets of accounts from  large UK firms (Deloitte and Grant Thornton) and the full stops are all missing in both.  Commas and apostrophes do appear (including, alas, one in "it's liabilities").  The text is generally a bit fuzzy so I think it is possible that the full stops were in the original document.  

Can anyone else confirm or clarify?

Thanks (0)
By arshadali
05th Jun 2013 11:30

No comma's in figures is the most irritating!!

I agree with the above, there should be full stops of course, but what really irritates me is the trend towards having no thousand comma separator in figures! It should be £1,000 not £1000 - this really gets on my nerves. I see it more and more, in accounts and spreadsheets - I always tell my juniors to use the comma separator, always!

Thanks (0)
By James99001
05th Jun 2013 11:32

Companies House

I believe this is a function of the Companies House scan.  I suggest downloading a set of PDF accounts that you have submitted to verify this is the case.



Thanks (0)
Nigel Harris
By Nigel Harris
05th Jun 2013 11:38

I hope we're not going all EU

Let's hope this is some isolated aberration. On the continent the custom is to use a dot as the thousands separator and a comma as the decimal point. Heaven forbid we go down that route!

Thanks (0)
By andrew.hyde
05th Jun 2013 12:09

International plot

Most people are unaware that most of our commas and full stops come from state-run punctuation mines in Berzerkistan where the authorities are deliberately restricting production in order to inflate prices and gain a corner for luxury items like exclamation marks and parentheses You may think this far fetched but when did you last see an ellipse Most exotic punctuation is now to be found only in leather bound volumes on the shelves of antiquarian booksellers

Thanks (4)
Replying to cfield:
By Old Greying Accountant
05th Jun 2013 22:04

Don't you ...

andrew.hyde wrote:

Most people are unaware that most of our commas and full stops come from state-run punctuation mines in Berzerkistan where the authorities are deliberately restricting production in order to inflate prices and gain a corner for luxury items like exclamation marks and parentheses You may think this far fetched but when did you last see an ellipse Most exotic punctuation is now to be found only in leather bound volumes on the shelves of antiquarian booksellers

... ever read my posts

As founder of STEM (Save The Elipsis Movement) I use them as frequently ...

... as possible

I assume you refered to ellipsis/ellipses as in ... and not ellipse as in a regular oval shape, traced by a point moving in a plane so that the sum of its distances from two other points (the foci) is constant?

Thanks (0)
By Democratus
05th Jun 2013 12:14

It all went pear shaped when we lost the billion debate to our US cousins. Now the EU, having seen our weakness are driving through this full stop directive and a proposed comma removal directive is currently in draft.

Once these are in place we will then be expected to adopt it under the EU Human Rights directive and the prevailing Health & Safety legislation. All those commas and full stops lying around are a trip hazard and a distraction.

Then at the end of the sentence the verb we shall next be putting; but this verb will be approved by the French word police to ensure compliance with French cultural values.


It's all progress i suppose.

Thanks (2)
By chatman
05th Jun 2013 15:29

EU Spelling Directive

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by z" and "w" by " v".

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali [***] tru.

Thanks (13)
By andy.partridge
05th Jun 2013 17:03

@ chatman

Best post I've seen this year

Thanks (1)
Replying to superphi:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
05th Jun 2013 17:44


I remember being taught some decades ago that we were switching from commas to spaces to separate thousands.

Using a space to separate thousands is recommended by:

-SI/ISO 31-0 standard

-International Bureau of Weights and Measures

-International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

-The American Medical Association

-United Kingdom Metrication Board

Can't see the EU there. Nothing to see here, move along.

Thanks (0)
By smallbeancounter
05th Jun 2013 17:44

Here's the truth:
This has been annoying me for far longer than you because the replacement of the decimal point by a comma has been the standard notation on engineering drawings for some years, and it just looks wrong to my eyes. So when I read your post I thought I would do a bit of digging. It has nothing to do with Europe. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is to blame: See: Within the download see para. 6.6.8, which reads:6.6.8   Representation of numbers and numerical values6.6.8.1 The decimal sign shall be a comma on the line in all language versions. If the magnitude (absolute value) of a number less than 1 is written in decimal form, the decimal sign shall be preceded by a zero.EXAMPLE      0, Each group of three digits reading to the left and to the right of a decimal sign shall be separated by a small space from preceding digits or following digits respectively, except for four-digit numbers designating years.EXAMPLE      23 456     2 345     2,345    2,345 6   2,345 67     but the year 2011. Details of the ISO are on their home page: And if you search around the interweb this pops up:'The notational convention of using a punctuation mark to separate the fractional part of a number seems to have begun with John Napier,a Scot, in his book "Descriptio" published in 1616. In this book he proposed using a decimal point (period) to separate the whole number part from the decimal part of a number. In the following year, 1617, in his book "Rhabdologia" he proposed a point or a comma as the decimal sepatatrix. In his writing he used both. To quote Cajori, "Napier vacillated between period and comma; mathematicians have been vacillating in this matter ever since", Florin Cajori, "A History of Mathematical Notation", 1974 page 324. By 1619 the decimal point had become standard in England.' I personally want the UK to leave the EU but I think it's important not to raise false flags. I prefer it when complaints against the EU are well founded so that supporters of British membership cannot make accusations of uninformed prejudice.   

Thanks (1)
Share this content