When writing out measurements, what order should be used when listing the units? e.g., Why is newton-metre (N m) used instead of metre-newton (m N)?

I encourage you to include resources/links/etc.

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    $\begingroup$ I have a sneaking suspicion that the answer will be mostly "It's a tradition!". $\endgroup$ – dmckee Nov 7 '16 at 2:07

It's tradition. Consider that we use Newton-metres (N m) but in English units we measure torque in Foot pounds (ft. lbs)

From a technical position, it doesn't matter. As you noticed, there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason. However, from an interpersonal position, it's highly helpful to have one unit, the "newton meter" instead of two units, the "newton meter" and the "meter newton" which mean the same thing. Linguistically, there will be some natural symmetry breaking.


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