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Abbreviations

Selected abbreviations are listed below.


Abbreviation

Unit of measurement

g
gram
gal.
gallon
gr
grain
kg
kilogram
lb
pound
M or min
minim
mcg
microgram
mg
milligram
mL
milliliter
oz
ounce
pt
pint
qt
quart
tbsp
tablespoon
tsp
teaspoon
Other common abbreviations used in the medical field:
Abbreviation
a.a.
a.c
b.i.d.
c.
gtt.
h.s.
o.d.
o.s.
p.c.
p.r.n.
q.i.d.
t.i.d.
u.d.

Meaning
of each
before meals
twice a day
with
drop, drops
at bedtime
right eye
left eye
after meals
as needed
four times a day
three times a day
as directed

Approximate Liquid Measures


1 fluid ounce = 30 milliliters

One liter of pure water weighs approximately one kilogram so 1cc (mL)
of water weighs 1 gram.
"A spoonful" generally means heaped or rounded, with as much above
the bowl of the spoon as in the spoon. However, a measure of liquid is a
level spoonful.
Apothecary measurement
1 gallon
1 gallon
1 quart
1 quart
1 pint
1 pint
4 fluid oz
8 fluid oz
10 minims
15 minims

Metric equivalent
3800 mL
128 fluid oz
960 mL
32 fluid oz
480 mL
16 fluid oz
120 mL
240 mL
0.6 mL
1 mL

Approximate Household Equivalents


1 teaspoonful = 5 milliliters
1 tablespoonful = 15 milliliters
1 ounce = 30 grams
1 gram = 15 grains
Apothecary measurement
2 oz
4 oz
16 oz
1/200 gr
1/150 gr
1/100 gr
1gr
7 gr
10 gr

Metric equivalent
60 g
120g
1 lb
300 mcg
400 mcg
600 mcg
60 mg
500 mg
600 mg

Metric Conversions
In 1866, the United Stated Congress legalized the use of the metric
system within the United States. The law also established approximate
equivalents between customary and metric measurements.
1 gram = 1,000 milligrams
1 milligram = 1,000 micrograms
Apothecary measurement
0.05 mg
0.5 mg
5 mg
0.05 g
0.5 g
5g

Metric equivalent
50 mcg
500 mcg
5,000 mcg
50 mg
500 mg
5,000 mg

Exact Equivalents
Note: Exact equivalents are used for compounding and calculations
requiring a high degree of accuracy.
International units: An old measurement of vitamin activity
determined by biological methods as opposed to new measures that are
determined by direct chemical analysis.
An international unit is quantity of a biologic (such as a vitamin) that
produces a particular biological effect agreed upon as an international
standard. Many health foods and supplements still use i.u. (IU).
Apothecary measurement
1
1
1
1
1
1

g
mL
minim
gr
pint (pt)
oz

Metric equivalent
15.43 gr
16.23 minims
0.06 mL
64.8 mg
473.2 mL
28.35 g

1 lb
1 kg
1 qt
0.1 mg
0.12 mg
0.15 mg
0.2 mg
0.3 mg
0.4 mg
0.5 mg
0.6 mg
0.8 mg
1 mg

453.6 g
2.2 lb
946.4 mL
1/600 gr
1/500 gr
1/400 gr
1/300 gr
1/200 gr
1/150 gr
1/120 gr
1/100 gr
1/80 gr
1/65 gr

Grain Equivalents
A grain is a unit of weight in the U.S. Customary System.
The apothecaries' system of mass is an obsolete system formerly used
by apothecaries (now called pharmacists or chemists) in Englishspeaking countries. Sometimes "ap" is added to the front of the unit to
identify it as part of the apothecaries' system.
During the first half of the 20th Century, the apothecaries' system was
replaced by the metric system.
Apothecary measurement
Metric equivalent
1/4 grain
15 mg
1/2 grain
3 mg
1 grain
60 mg
11/2 grains
90 mg
5 grains
300 mg
10 grains
600 mg
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of
children, never share your medicines with others, and use this
medication only for the indication prescribed.
Measurement Systems

Two of the most crucial steps in compounding any pharmaceutical product are theaccurate
calculation and measurement of the component ingredients of the formulation. In order to carry
out these critical functions, the pharmacist must have a working knowledge of three systems of
measurement: the Metric system, the Apothecary system, and the Avoirdupois system.
The Metric System
The metric system is the preferred and most frequently used system of measurement in pharmacy.
Since it is a decimal system, other denominations of measure in the system are easily and quickly
generated as a 10nth multiple at the basic unit. To convert from larger to smaller units, one need only
move the decimal the appropriate number of places to the right. The decimal is moved to the left to
convert from smaller to larger units.
The Apothecary System
The Apothecary system was commonly used in the past by pharmacists and physicians as the system
of weights and measures for prescribing and dispensing medications. Although it has largely been
replaced by the less cumbersome metric system, the pharmacist still encounters these symbols in
his/her routine practice. Indeed, the apothecary system of fluid measure is still commonly used in a
variety of products, both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical, and everyone should be familiar with
the fluid ounce, pint, quart, and gallon.
Since quantities of ingredients in the Apothecary system are commonly written in Roman rather than
in Arabic numerals, you should recall the following:

The Avoirdupois System


The Avoirdupois system is a system of weight measurement only. Its basic unit, the grain, is the same
as in the Apothecary system. The Avoirdupois ounce and pound differ in weight and symbols from
those in the Apothecary system. The Avoirdupois pound is the pound to which we are all accustomed
in our daily lives. It is also the weight measure in which bulk chemicals and over the counter
pharmaceuticals are bought and sold. It is important to make this distinction from weights in the
Apothecary system, which are used only in the prescription or medication order.