Is there a standardized way to express discounts or credits in an order summary?


Sub total: $20
Discount:  -$10
Total:     $10

I've seen discounts expressed as -$10, $-10, ($10), and +$10.

Are any of these expressions more "correct" than the other? Is there a common or standardized way to express discounts? Where would these standards be documented?

closed as off-topic by Chris W. Rea, mhoran_psprep, Nathan L, Pete B., Dheer Dec 15 '18 at 1:51

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions about accounting are off-topic unless they relate directly to personal finance or investing from an individual's perspective." – Chris W. Rea, Pete B., Dheer
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


No, there is not a universal standard for negative numbers. Accountants generally prefer parentheses (possibly since they are more obvious that a negative sign), but consumers may not be as familiar with that convention.

I would say that +$10 is both redundant (since the absence of a negative sign implies a positive number) and confusing for a discount since it's implied that the discount is subtracted. Does the positive mean that the discount is added to the total (like a double-negative)?. But it's not wrong per se.

From a sytle standpoint, aligning the decimal point (actual or implied), and sometimes the currency symbol, is preferred visually:

Sub total:  $20
Discount:  -$10
Total:      $10
  • From my (limited) understanding, a balance due is a negative number. So, credits and discounts are additive, not subtractive. Is that correct? – Aaron Benjamin Dec 14 '18 at 18:58

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.