32GB vs. 32 GB: Common Mistakes in Writing Tech Specs

Consider this a heads-up, esteemed reader: you might find this to be the most meticulous discussion ever on TUAW, or perhaps anywhere. It’s hard to resist: someone is wrong on the internet.

Try this little experiment. Navigate to the Apple menu on your Mac and choose “About This Mac.” You’ll see a small window pop up showing your processor and RAM details. My own Mac lists a 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4 GB of RAM. If I delve deeper into “More Info” to access System Profiler, it also shows a 250 GB hard drive.

Next, visit the MacBook Pro product page on Apple’s website and hit “Buy Now” to check out the tech specs.

The 17-inch version is advertised with a 2.53GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Notice anything peculiar? The spaces are missing. It’s 2.53GHz instead of 2.6 GHz, 4GB instead of 4 GB, and so on.

This is a widespread error across the tech industry on product pages. Click “Read More” to explore why this matters.

According to The International System of Units (SI), the correct format is to always place a space between the number and the unit. The SI brochure specifies that “The numerical value always precedes the unit, and a space is always used to separate the unit from the number.” The exceptions are only for units of plane angle: degree, minute, and second.

Thus, 3.06 GHz, 500 GB, and 1.44 MB are correct, while 3.06GHz, 500GB, and 1.44MB are incorrect.

Yet, this error has become so common that it’s nearly a norm. This discrepancy is particularly notable because it differs from the format used in their operating systems. This issue is distinct from the “gigabyte versus gibibyte” confusion, which was addressed by Snow Leopard amidst much debate.

Apple, listen… I like you, but I think we need some space.

Here’s a list of those who frequently omit spaces between numbers and units:

Product pages: Apple, Newegg, Macsales, Amazon (Kindle description), Microsoft (Xbox 360 page), Google (Nexus S tech spec page), Sony, Dell, and Lenovo.

Blogs: Macworld, Engadget, and nearly everyone else online, including us at TUAW most of the time.

Online services: Google Images and Gmail.

Devices: The labels on the backs of iPods and iPhones.

So beautiful, yet so incorrect

Now, let’s highlight who’s doing it right by maintaining the spaces:

File systems: Mac OS X, iOS, Windows, DOS, Chrome OS, Android, Sony PlayStation 3.

Online platforms: Apple’s App Store, MobileMe, and Microsoft’s Hotmail.

Product pages: Microsoft, HP.

Only Microsoft and HP consistently use the correct spacing on both their product pages and within the OS specifications. The rest of the industry seems caught in a rift between product page and OS terminology, opting for 32GB instead of 32 GB, and it’s been a source of frustration for me. It’s unlikely anyone would write 32gigabytes or 2.6gigahertz, so why do so many companies and bloggers write 32GB or 2.6GHz?

While this may seem like a minor detail, it’s significant enough to merit attention.

Share This Article
Mat

Edward is a dedicated writer for TUAW, your go-to source for all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail and a love for technology, Edward brings insightful reviews and updates on the latest Apple products, from the iPhone and iPad to the MacBook and Apple Watch. His articles are both informative and engaging, making complex tech topics easy to understand. When he’s not writing, Edward enjoys exploring new apps and features on his Apple devices, always staying ahead of the curve.