standards > terminology artifact > DOI:10.25504/FAIRsharing.27w8k0

ready The Unified Code for Units of Measure

Abbreviation: UCUM

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The Unified Code for Units of Measure is a code system intended to include all units of measures being contemporarily used in international science, engineering, and business. The purpose is to facilitate unambiguous electronic communication of quantities together with their units. The focus is on electronic communication, as opposed to communication between humans. A typical application of The Unified Code for Units of Measure are electronic data interchange (EDI) protocols, but there is nothing that prevents it from being used in other types of machine communication. How does it relate? The Unified Code for Units of Measure is inspired by and heavily based on ISO 2955-1983, ANSI X3.50-1986, and HL7's extensions called ISO+. The respective ISO and ANSI standards are both entitled Representation of [...] units in systems with limited character sets where ISO 2955 refers to SI and other units provided by ISO 1000-1981, while ANSI X3.50 extends ISO 2955 to include U.S. customary units. Because these standards carry the restriction of limited character sets in their names they seem to be of less value today where graphical user interface and laser printers are in wide-spread use, which is why the european standard ENV 12435 in its clause 7.3 declares ISO 2955 obsolete. ENV 12435 is dedicated exclusively to the communication of measurements between humans in display and print, and does not provide codes that can be used in communication between systems. It does not even provide a specification that would allow communication of units from one system to the screen or printer of another system. The issue about displaying units in the common style defined by the 9th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures (CGPM) in 1947 is not just the character set. Although The Unicode Standard and its predecessor ISO/IEC 10646 is the richest character set ever it is still not enough to specify the presentation of units because there are important typographical details such as superscripts, subscripts, roman and italics.


Countries that developed this resource United States

Created in 1999

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How to cite this record UCUM; The Unified Code for Units of Measure; DOI:; Last edited: Jan. 8, 2019, 1:27 p.m.; Last accessed: Nov 29 2020 10:16 p.m.

Record added: Nov. 17, 2015, 6:06 p.m.
Record updated: July 7, 2017, 3:23 p.m. by The FAIRsharing Team.

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Units of measure in clinical information systems.

Schadow G,McDonald CJ,Suico JG,Fohring U,Tolxdorff T
J Am Med Inform Assoc 1999

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