Rounding/buchhalterisch runden

I was wondering how to translate buchhalterisch runden, aka kaufmännisch runden.

I know what it means – it means rounding up or down, literally in the ‘accountants’ style’.

Here I do think I can rely on the German Wikipedia:

Das Kaufmännische Runden geschieht wie folgt:

* Ist die Ziffer an der ersten wegfallenden Dezimalstelle eine 0,1,2,3 oder 4, dann wird abgerundet.
* Ist die Ziffer an der ersten wegfallenden Dezimalstelle eine 5,6,7,8 oder 9, dann wird aufgerundet.

Diese Rundungsregel wird durch die Norm DIN 1333 beschrieben. Das Runden wird so auch häufig in der Schule gelehrt.

English Wikipedia is self-described as unreliable, but says:

Round-to-even method

This method, also known as unbiased rounding, convergent rounding, statistician’s rounding, Dutch rounding, Gaussian rounding, or bankers’ rounding, exactly replicates the common method of rounding except when the digit(s) following the rounding digit starts with a five and has no non-zero digits after it.

Note that, according to this article, this is not identical to the ‘common method’. See the talk page for the dispute, and also three discussions on LEO. One suggestion there is ’round to nearest ($)’, but that is ambiguous.

This led to quite a discussion on two lists. One opinion is just to write ’round’. That doesn’t seem precise enough to me, in a contract, or, as was also suggested, in building specifications. But to define it precisely would take a lot of words. Others want to translate buchhalterisch or kaufmännisch literally. On top of that, it is apparently met most frequently in accounting, but that was not my context.

6 thoughts on “Rounding/buchhalterisch runden

  1. Margaret, I always assumed this was the way to automatically do things. I was taught to round up or down based on the last numeral and just assumed it was common practice (then again, my father was an accountant, so…). I do my bookkeeping that way without thinking about it. Thanks to your post I actually consciously thought about it.

  2. This was an interesting discussion. Yes, it is the “normal” way of rounding, but I believe if you have a text that deals with scientific or construction/building matters, it should be noted. As a surveyor I learned the “round to even” when calculating lot sizes and such, so if you have a document that deals with lots or floor space (even though this wasn’t) you may want to note if some numbers were rounded “kaufm

  3. Dear Professor Marks:

    Could you please give me your e-mail address, so I can ask you about the German-English translations courses that you teach, e.g., what is the name of the university?

    Thank you very much.



    • Hi Mark,
      I don’t teach now – in the distant past I taught at universities, but I have never taught translation at a university. A decision was made in Bavaria that translation was a practical skill, not academic. I taught at the Fachakademie of the Institut f

      • Thank you very much, Dr. Marks.

        This information gives me a start.

        If I have some questions about the business of German-English legal translation, may I contact you?

        If so, what would be the best way?

        Thank you very much for your assistance, Dr. Marks.



  4. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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