List of Roman numerals

This page provides calligraphers with a comprehensive list of Roman numerals (plus conversion into Arabic numerals) along with tips on how to use and memorise them.

If (for example) you're experimenting with Roman writing, or a medieval script, 'vii.iv.mmx' would be more authentic than '7/4/2010'.

Note: This list of Roman numerals is in small letters (xlix rather than XLIX). That's correct for medieval and Renaissance use. In Roman or modern writing, use capitals: MCMLVII not mcmlvii. They both mean the same number.

List of Roman numerals i-xcix (1-99)
Roman - Arabic | | Roman - Arabic | | Roman - Arabic
i - 1xxxiv - 34lxvii - 67
ii - 2xxxv - 35lxviii - 68
iii - 3xxxvi - 36lxix - 69
iv - 4xxxvii - 37lxx - 70
v - 5xxxviii - 38lxxi - 71
vi - 6xxxix - 39lxxii - 72
vii - 7xl - 40lxxiii - 73
viii - 8xli - 41lxxiv - 74
ix - 9xlii - 42lxxv - 75
x - 10xliii - 43lxxvi - 76
xi - 11xliv - 44lxxvii - 77
xii - 12xlv - 45lxxviii - 78
xiii - 13xlvi - 46lxxix - 79
xiv - 14xlvii - 47lxxx - 80
xv - 15xlviii - 48lxxxi - 81
xvi - 16xlix - 49lxxxii - 82
xvii - 17l - 50lxxxiii - 83
xviii - 18li - 51lxxxiv - 84
xix - 19lii - 52lxxxv - 85
xx - 20liii - 53lxxxvi - 86
xxi - 21liv - 54lxxxvii - 87
xxii - 22lv - 55lxxxviii - 88
xxiii - 23lvi - 56lxxxix - 89
xxiv - 24lvii - 57xc - 90
xxv - 25lviii - 58xci - 91
xxvi - 26lix - 59xcii - 92
xxvii - 27lx - 60xciii - 93
xxviii - 28lxi - 61xciv - 94
xxix - 29lxii - 62xcv - 95
xxx - 30lxiii - 63xcvi - 96
xxxi - 31lxiv - 64xcvii - 97
xxxii - 32lxv - 65xcviii - 98
xxxiii - 33lxvi - 66xcix - 99

List of Roman numerals (100s & 1000s)
Roman - Arabic | | Roman - Arabic | | Roman - Arabic
c - 100cc - 200mcc - 1200
cx - 110ccc - 300mccc - 1300
cxx - 120cd - 400mcd - 1400
cxxx - 130d - 500md - 1500
cxl - 140dc - 600mdc - 1600
cl - 150dcc - 700mdcc - 1700
clx - 160dccc - 800mdccc - 1800
clxx - 170cm - 900mcm - 1900
clxxx - 180m - 1000mm - 2000
cxc - 190mc - 1100vii.iv.mmc - 7/4/2010

Note: A horizontal line over a number means to multiply it by 1,000.

How to remember the basic list of Roman numerals

  • i = 1 is easy – looks like one finger
  • v = 5 looks like the V-shape of one hand held up with all 5 fingers spread (look at the line of the thumb through to the little finger)
  • x = 10 looks two vs joined together at their points
  • l = 50 – perhaps you, like me, will remember this because 5 xs arrange very neatly into a capital ‘L’ shape.
  • c = 100 is easy again –'c' for 'centum' (100): ‘century’, ‘centurion’, ‘centipede’, ‘centigrade’, ‘centimetre’.
  • d = 500 – I remember this basically because it isn’t any of the others. Small help, I know.
  • m = 1,000 – millipede, millimetre, millilitre ... many many many ...
These are not the actual origins of the numerals. They are just handy ways to remember them. Roman numerals only happen to look like Roman letters i, v, x, l, c, d, m because writers adapted them to look that way. Originally, they were differently-shaped notches on a tally stick.

Working with the list of Roman numerals

  • If one or more smaller numbers follow a larger number, add them all together. (xvi = 10+5+1 = 16.)
  • If a i, x or c comes before a larger number, treat those two together as an individual unit and subtract the smaller from the larger. This is called ‘subordinate subtraction’ (not a way to get rid of bad juniors.) For example, ix = 1-from-10 = 9. And cd = 100-from-500 = 400. Why do this? Well, it prevents long confusing strings of xxs and iis. Without subordinate subtraction, 499 would be cccclxxxxviiii instead of just cdxcix.
  • In subordinate subtraction, the smaller of the two numbers can't be too much smaller. You may place
    • ones before a five or a ten
    • tens before a fifty or hundred
    • hundreds before a five-hundred or thousand
    So, you cannot write ‘im’ for 999: it must be cmxcix.
  • You can only use one smaller number before the larger one. For example, ixl ('1 from 10 from 50') is wrong; and it could mean either 39 or 41, so it's useless. Also, a smaller 'subordinate unit' can't precede a larger one. So something like 'ixxc' makes no sense as a Roman numeral. But xcix does.

Tips for reading Roman numbers

Using the list of Roman numerals above, or by writing them out yourself, learn the numbers from 1 to 10 as individual units.

Try to get beyond seeing ‘vii’ as ‘5+1+1’ and just see that shape as ‘7’. The more you can do this, the easier it will be to deal with larger numbers. For example, in xxvii, you will see 20+7 instead of 10+10+5+1+1.

Do the same for the ‘subtractive’ units: iv, ix, xl, xc, cd, cm. When you get to mmcdxlix it is helpful to see it as 2000+400+40+9 rather than 1000+1000+(100 from 500)+(10 from 50)+(1 from 10).

Write your own list of Roman numerals, preferably with a calligraphy pen. Concentrate on the 'units' mentioned above: iv, vi, ix, xv etc. Fix those in your memory and you'll find that reading long numbers gets much easier.

Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are not easy in this system. (That’s why we switched to Arabic numerals.) I’m afraid a mere list of Roman numerals will not help you there. But for reading and writing purposes I hope you are now sorted out.

Notes for calligraphers on Roman numerals

Try using a slightly narrower nib if you have a lot of Roman numerals to write in a document (dates of birth, etc). Many ‘x’s can be overpowering.

During the Roman period and the Middle Ages, it was common to use four 'i's (iiii) instead of 'iv' for 4. Sometimes this transferred to larger numbers: viiii instead of ix for 9. These variations (and others) are not shown in the 'orthodox' list of Roman numerals above.

In a sequence of 'ii', 'iii' or 'iiii' it was also common historically to extend the final 'i' below the line a little with a slight curve to the left, like a 'j'. This was to show the end of the sequence (and prevent extra 'i's being added by a later hand).

The symbol 'm' for 1000 was not used until the first century AD.

And one other thing which I’m sometimes asked. It's the Roman alphabet but Arabic numerals in general use in English and European languages.

Our modern numbering system (1, 2, 3, etc) is properly called 'Arabic numerals'. They are so named because we learned them from the Arabs during the Middle Ages.

Arabic numerals have evolved through many interesting forms and are a calligraphic exercise in their own right. I think the Arabs got them from India ... but, anyway, that’s another story.

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