Cochrane Style Manual
Symbols and special characters

In this section: General guidance on symbols | Guidance on spacing around commonly used symbols | Selecting and adding symbols and characters | Symbols to avoid

General guidance on using symbols and special characters

In general symbols should be avoided in text, with use reserved for within brackets or tables or wherever brevity is important. Symbols should be used when expressing dosages (e.g. 5 mg/kg/day) or in mathematical equations. See also guidance on usage of common symbols.

Special characters should be used, where available, to represent names or words accurately (e.g. Marušić 2010).

Only symbols and special characters available in RevMan 5 can be used in a Cochrane Review. Some symbols and special characters should be avoided (See Symbols to avoid.)

Guidance on usage and presentation of commonly used symbols

Symbol Description Usage Spacing

+

plus, and

 

One space either side

minus

Note: the minus symbol is different to the dash available on most keyboards. The minus sign is available as a symbol in RevMan 5 (Unicode 2212).

 

One space either side in mathematical equations, but no space between the minus sign and the number for a negative number

e.g. Standard negative pressure rates range from −50 mmHg to −125 mmHg.

Note: for equations, see Statistical and mathematical presentation.

/

per or divided by

Use '/' instead of 'per' where 'per' is otherwise cumbersome

10 mg/kg (not 10 mg per kg)

No space on either side, e.g. 10 g/L

<

less than (e.g. for percentages)

fewer than (e.g. for people)

 

One space either side

>

greater than

more than

 

One space either side

=

equals

 

One space either side

&

and

The ampersand symbol should only be used if it is part of a brand name (e.g. Procter & Gamble) or the title of a publication (e.g. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism).

One space either side

%

percentage

The percentage sign can be used in a block of text when it is used with a numeral.

e.g. Fewer than 90% of the participants completed the study.

Use 'per cent' instead of '%' when starting a sentence and when the number is written in full (i.e. not a numeral).

e.g. Three per cent of people . . .

There is no space between the number and the percentage sign, e.g. 15%.

™, ®

Trademark (® for registered; ™ for unregistered)

The trademark symbols are not normally used in Cochrane Reviews.

See Pharmaceutical drug names.

If used, the symbols should be written immediately after the brand name they apply to, with no separating space, e.g. Nexium®, Backup Exec™ software.

° degree symbol

Use to indicate degrees of arc, e.g. when measuring joint flexibility, or temperature. 

For degrees of arc, the degree symbol follows the number without any intervening space, e.g. 43°.

For temperature, there is a space between the number and the degree symbol, but no space between the degree symbol and the letter that indicates the scale being used, e.g. 100 °C, 212 °F.

Note: degree symbols are not used for temperatures measured on the Kelvin scale, e.g. 373.15 K.

Selecting and adding symbols and special characters

Many different symbols and special characters are available for use in Review Manager 5 (RevMan 5). They may be inserted using the 'Insert symbol...' option from the 'Edit' menu or by using codes.

Selecting symbols using the RevMan 5 'Insert Symbol' tool:

RevMan 5 Insert Symbols menu

Codes for most commonly used symbols in RevMan 5:

Symbol

PC:

Alt + code

Mac:

Alt + Shift + Code

8804

2264

8805

2265

µ

0181

03BC

° (degree symbol)

0176

00B0

² (superscript 2)

0178

00B2

³ (superscript 3)

0179

00B3

±

0177

00B1

Symbols and characters to avoid

Some symbols and characters should be avoided, because they currently do not render correctly in PDFs.

Alt + Code Symbol
64257
351 ş
369 ű
8776
8260
8764
8734
8197  
9674
8595
8203  
8201  
8593
934 Φ
8206  
9201
923 Λ
8218
8592
8202  
710 ˆ
9827
127 ? in box
978 ϒ
8250
8773
8222
8727
402 ƒ
8200  
8240
8706
8800
928 Π
8207  
8719
8733
8736
376 Ÿ
8596
8660
8709
8721
8743
Section info
Contact
Elizabeth Royle (eroyle@cochrane.org)
Describe change
Inclusion of information about how to format degree symbol.
Change date
15 June 2017