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.
Roman - Arabic | | | Roman - Arabic | | | Roman - Arabic |
---|---|---|
i - 1 | xxxiv - 34 | lxvii - 67 |
ii - 2 | xxxv - 35 | lxviii - 68 |
iii - 3 | xxxvi - 36 | lxix - 69 |
iv - 4 | xxxvii - 37 | lxx - 70 |
v - 5 | xxxviii - 38 | lxxi - 71 |
vi - 6 | xxxix - 39 | lxxii - 72 |
vii - 7 | xl - 40 | lxxiii - 73 |
viii - 8 | xli - 41 | lxxiv - 74 |
ix - 9 | xlii - 42 | lxxv - 75 |
x - 10 | xliii - 43 | lxxvi - 76 |
xi - 11 | xliv - 44 | lxxvii - 77 |
xii - 12 | xlv - 45 | lxxviii - 78 |
xiii - 13 | xlvi - 46 | lxxix - 79 |
xiv - 14 | xlvii - 47 | lxxx - 80 |
xv - 15 | xlviii - 48 | lxxxi - 81 |
xvi - 16 | xlix - 49 | lxxxii - 82 |
xvii - 17 | l - 50 | lxxxiii - 83 |
xviii - 18 | li - 51 | lxxxiv - 84 |
xix - 19 | lii - 52 | lxxxv - 85 |
xx - 20 | liii - 53 | lxxxvi - 86 |
xxi - 21 | liv - 54 | lxxxvii - 87 |
xxii - 22 | lv - 55 | lxxxviii - 88 |
xxiii - 23 | lvi - 56 | lxxxix - 89 |
xxiv - 24 | lvii - 57 | xc - 90 |
xxv - 25 | lviii - 58 | xci - 91 |
xxvi - 26 | lix - 59 | xcii - 92 |
xxvii - 27 | lx - 60 | xciii - 93 |
xxviii - 28 | lxi - 61 | xciv - 94 |
xxix - 29 | lxii - 62 | xcv - 95 |
xxx - 30 | lxiii - 63 | xcvi - 96 |
xxxi - 31 | lxiv - 64 | xcvii - 97 |
xxxii - 32 | lxv - 65 | xcviii - 98 |
xxxiii - 33 | lxvi - 66 | xcix - 99 |
Roman - Arabic | | | Roman - Arabic | | | Roman - Arabic |
---|---|---|
c - 100 | cc - 200 | mcc - 1200 |
cx - 110 | ccc - 300 | mccc - 1300 |
cxx - 120 | cd - 400 | mcd - 1400 |
cxxx - 130 | d - 500 | md - 1500 |
cxl - 140 | dc - 600 | mdc - 1600 |
cl - 150 | dcc - 700 | mdcc - 1700 |
clx - 160 | dccc - 800 | mdccc - 1800 |
clxx - 170 | cm - 900 | mcm - 1900 |
clxxx - 180 | m - 1000 | mm - 2000 |
cxc - 190 | mc - 1100 | vii.iv.mmc - 7/4/2010 |
Note: A horizontal line over a number means to multiply it by 1,000.
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.
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.
Go to the 'Roman alphabet' page
Go to the Roman writing (rustic capitals) page
Return from 'List of Roman numerals' to the Calligraphy Skills homepage