Number Formatting

Support for locale-specific formatting and parsing of numbers is provided by the babel.numbers module:

>>> from babel.numbers import format_number, format_decimal, format_compact_decimal, format_percent


# Numbers with decimal places
>>> format_decimal(1.2345, locale='en_US')
>>> format_decimal(1.2345, locale='sv_SE')
# Integers with thousand grouping
>>> format_decimal(12345, locale='de_DE')
>>> format_decimal(12345678, locale='de_DE')

Pattern Syntax

While Babel makes it simple to use the appropriate number format for a given locale, you can also force it to use custom patterns. As with date/time formatting patterns, the patterns Babel supports for number formatting are based on the Locale Data Markup Language specification (LDML).


>>> format_decimal(-1.2345, format='#,##0.##;-#', locale='en')
>>> format_decimal(-1.2345, format='#,##0.##;(#)', locale='en')

The syntax for custom number format patterns is described in detail in the the specification. The following table is just a relatively brief overview.






‘1’ through ‘9’ indicate rounding.


Significant digit


Digit, zero shows as absent


Decimal separator or monetary decimal separator


Minus sign


Grouping separator


Separates mantissa and exponent in scientific notation


Prefix positive exponents with localized plus sign


Separates positive and negative subpatterns


Multiply by 100 and show as percentage

Multiply by 1000 and show as per mille


Currency sign, replaced by currency symbol. If doubled, replaced by international currency symbol. If tripled, uses the long form of the decimal symbol.


Used to quote special characters in a prefix or suffix


Pad escape, precedes pad character

Rounding Modes

Since Babel makes full use of Python’s Decimal type to perform number rounding before formatting, users have the chance to control the rounding mode and other configurable parameters through the active Context instance.

By default, Python rounding mode is ROUND_HALF_EVEN which complies with UTS #35 section 3.3. Yet, the caller has the opportunity to tweak the current context before formatting a number or currency:

>>> from babel.numbers import decimal, format_decimal
>>> with decimal.localcontext(decimal.Context(rounding=decimal.ROUND_DOWN)):
>>>    txt = format_decimal(123.99, format='#', locale='en_US')
>>> txt

It is also possible to use decimal.setcontext or directly modifying the instance returned by decimal.getcontext. However, using a context manager is always more convenient due to the automatic restoration and the ability to nest them.

Whatever mechanism is chosen, always make use of the decimal module imported from babel.numbers. For efficiency reasons, Babel uses the fastest decimal implementation available, such as cdecimal. These various implementation offer an identical API, but their types and instances do not interoperate with each other.

For example, the previous example can be slightly modified to generate unexpected results on Python 2.7, with the cdecimal module installed:

>>> from decimal import localcontext, Context, ROUND_DOWN
>>> from babel.numbers import format_decimal
>>> with localcontext(Context(rounding=ROUND_DOWN)):
>>>    txt = format_decimal(123.99, format='#', locale='en_US')
>>> txt

Changing other parameters such as the precision may also alter the results of the number formatting functions. Remember to test your code to make sure it behaves as desired.

Parsing Numbers

Babel can also parse numeric data in a locale-sensitive manner:

>>> from babel.numbers import parse_decimal, parse_number


>>> parse_decimal('1,099.98', locale='en_US')
>>> parse_decimal('1.099,98', locale='de')
>>> parse_decimal('2,109,998', locale='de')
Traceback (most recent call last):
NumberFormatError: '2,109,998' is not a valid decimal number

Note: as of version 2.8.0, the parse_number function has limited functionality. It can remove group symbols of certain locales from numeric strings, but may behave unexpectedly until its logic handles more encoding issues and other special cases.


>>> parse_number('1,099', locale='en_US')
>>> parse_number('1.099.024', locale='de')
>>> parse_number('123' + u'\xa0' + '4567', locale='ru')
>>> parse_number('123 4567', locale='ru')
NumberFormatError: '123 4567' is not a valid number