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?


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

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