Abbreviation for Million

How to Abbreviate Million

Don’t abbreviate the word million. Spell it out. 

Many people want to abbreviate million, but it opens the door to confusion.

For example, I asked Google for guidance on how to abbreviate million here and got a page full of conflicting search results.

Abbreviation for Million

When business people read reports, and when recruiters read resumes, it’s very common to see something like this — $1M.

While recruiters love to see numbers on resumes, they like them to be accurate (more on that here) and make easy sense to them.

Many readers have no idea if the writer means $1,000 or $1 million. That’s a huge difference ($999,000 to be exact).

Let’s say you’re talking about sales growth of $1 million dollars. If you use $1M, some of your readers might think sales grew $1,000 instead of $1 million. You go from being a hero to being perceived as an underperformer without even realizing it.

Numbers produce anxiety and confusion in many people. Avoid that by making your quantifications crystal clear.

If you’re talking millions, use the word — $1 million. 

If you’re working on a report, or your resume, and you’re desperate for space, use $1MM, not “M.” Again, it’s understood that “MM” means million. Nope, see the comments below. “MM” won’t work in the UK. It can mean “billion” there.

Abbreviation for Thousand

If you’re talking thousands, use the number: $1,000.

Again, if you’re desperate for space, use $1K for $1,000. Most people understand that “K” means thousand. If they don’t, they can Google it and get a straight answer. I checked. But why use an abbreviation that your readers have to Google?

The Confusing Single “M”

A single “M” can mean either thousand or million. You want your business writing to be clear, not confusing. Spell “million” and “thousand.” Don’t try to abbreviate them.

Abbreviation for Billion

Again, just don’t.

Examples

Click here to find samples that show you how to present large numbers on your resume.

More

Read on to the comments below for more information and insights on how to abbreviate thousand, million, and billion.

You might also like these additional ten posts on common resume and cover letter errors.

Image: Fotolia/Ieva Geneviciene
Updated May 2019

© 2014 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 40

  1. Thank you Donna. In the UK some people use MM to mean billion so it’s good to avoid the double M.

  2. Here’s the problem with that strategy though…in certain professions, such as online advertising, you’ll look like a complete idiot if you don’t use M and MM. In those cases, I think you ought to write for your hiring manager rather than the recruiter.

  3. In the metric system (used by all but 3 countries – google to see which countries the US keeps company with) ‘k’ is the abbreviation for kilo – Greek for thousand, ‘M’ is for mega – million, ‘G’ is for giga – most of the world now uses ‘billion’ but some places still use ‘thousand million’, ‘T’ is for tera – trillion (which is what I read the abbreviation MM to mean). If all else fails use scientific notation.

  4. Good missive, Donna! The idea is to communicate effectively. Make your stuff an easy read for someone who is bored silly by all the other stuff they have skimmed before seeing what you have to offer. The resume is the bait and how you write it is part of the hook to reel in the interview. As for spelling it out, of course you spell it out! – Your resume is like a mirror in that it reflects aspects of how you approach detail and significance. A recruiting specialist looks beyond the surface scribe for telltales. Like how you write, what you accomplish in a few words, tact, respect for the reader and dignity. Or so I have been told. Someone else suggested using the “M” with a line over it to mean multiply by 1000, but I think that is a stretch for most recruiters in the field today and it may not translate correctly with the OCR software. Choose wisely, and when you get that job then hire me – I’ve been out on UPTO, but as the pilot says in that famous movie, “… hello boys! I’m Baacck!”

  5. We do look beyond the surface for the tell. Thank you Jefferson. You’ve led me to my next blog post. Donna

  6. Thank you Grant. I’m sticking with “spell it” unless it makes you look clueless in your particular subculture (see comment above). Then use your subculture’s conventions. This is a fun topic. Or I’m just a geek. Or both. 🙂 Donna

  7. Always write to your audience. If your industry/profession has a clear convention, and you understand it, use it. If you don’t understand it, research it. If you get it wrong, you won’t look necessarily like a complete idiot, but it will damage your first impression. Sometimes a lot. Thank you, AF, for this refining point! Donna

  8. So good to know John. Thank you! Spell “million” and “billion” out y’all.

  9. I worked for a very large FMCG company and we used 5M = 5,000 and 5MM = 5,000,000. The logic was that M is the roman numeral for 1,000. So 5MM is 5 thousand thousand. It took a little getting used to but it kind of makes sense. Mind you we didn’t go as far as saying 5C for 500! 🙂

  10. Hi Glenn,

    It does make sense.

    I used those abbreviations until I wrote this blog post and read all the comments. Since then, I have spelled million because it seems as though the opportunity for confusing readers is pretty high.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  11. By the way, what does “FMCG” means?. I am so tired of trying to “decode” such king of abbreviations: “Workef for the KDDG playing the role of DDA Analyst. ODT abilities and working knowledge in PD/AA systems…..

  12. Hi Jean,

    I understand. FMCG = fast moving consumer goods. Thank you for asking.

    Kind regards,

    Donna

  13. I worked for a large American chemical company, and they also used this confusing terminology. I thought we abandoned roman numerals for industry and commerce once the zero had been invented in India. Apart from historical uses (e.g. clocks, classical dating), we should eliminate any roman numeral remnants from our thinking, now that we have adopted in 1963 I think the SI system / units.

  14. Hi Brian,

    I would read $100mm as $100 million. However, someone in a different country (I’m in the US) or a particular industry might interpret it differently.

    Beyond that, if you have a young HR professional doing the first review of your resume, that might not understand it all.

    Thank you for asking,

    Donna

  15. How would you write out large numbers (for currency)? I’m confused whether to write 2.5 billions USD or 2.5 billion USD?

  16. How would your write this large number 1 987 532 100 876 (for currency) in “billones” de bolivars (Venezuela currency)?

  17. As a lawyer dealing with large numbers in email and such, its always $5k for $5,000 and $5m for $5,000,000. I looked this up because a banker used a $5MM abbreviation and I had no idea what he was saying.

    On the other hand, when writing a complaint or other pleading, its always “five thousand dollars ($5,000).”

    Usage is everything. History is bunk.

  18. Hi William,

    Your comment, “I had no idea what he was saying,” is the best argument for not abbreviating I’ve seen.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  19. Communication is the goal. In the US banking industry, using M as an abbreviation for thousand and MM for a million is standard (at least based on my 30 years of experience). Using M for million in that industry could be misleading. Best to understand your audience.
    Good comments about common usage in the US and other countries — and the emphasis on clear communication being the standard.

  20. Hi Shan,

    That’s why I encouraging spelling “million.”

    Different countries and industries have different conventions. Not all of them make sense to me either.

    Avoid confusion, don’t abbreviate it, spell it.

    Thanks for chiming in!

    Donna

  21. Extremely informative!! Thank you for always giving great insight into important topics Donna! Candidly, for my resume clients who are lawyers and hybrids (general counsel and executives), I use M for million, and K for thousand. It is mostly to save space and for easy readership. I really appreciated the insight and comments from others.

  22. Wendi,

    Thanks for chiming in.

    Spelling million, billion, and trillion out helps non-financial readers understand the resume more easily.

    Donna

  23. Thanks Donna! Oil and gas standard is “$MM,” but if you have the room, always better to spell it out.

  24. Phil,

    You’re welcome. It’s funny, I’m always able to make room to spell these words out. Probably because I have a bag full of space-saving tricks for writing resumes. 😉

    Donna

  25. Thanks you, Donna, for the explanation from a few years ago. I just found this because I hadn’t a clue was $1MM meant in an advertisement.

    I’ve been working technical projects and the associated mid level budgets in a US federal agency since 1987 and I don’t believe I have ever seen that notation. Informally we use K for a thousand and M for a million.

    Learned something today. Thanks.

  26. Hi Jim,

    I’m glad my post (including all the wonderful comments!) was helpful.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  27. Hi Donna

    I am an old HR professional and I have never seen MM used. I just happen to google it since I saw it on a letter the VP asked me to proof. My suggestion is, lets decide what we are going to use globally so everyone understands and leave it at that so there is no confusion.

  28. Hi Lisa,

    First, global unity on how to abbreviate million and then on to other issues. Love it!

    Thank you,

    Donna

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