16 Jan /12

DAX 30: Annual reports in English – vocabulary and figures

annual reports translationA short analysis of the vocabulary and format used in the annual reports of the DAX 30 companies reveals considerable differences and some simple mistakes in terms of wording.

Vorstand, Aufsichtsrat in the DAX 30 companies

There is 100% agreement on how “Aufsichtsrat” should be translated into English: Supervisory Board is chosen by all 30 companies. And this general unanimity continues with the “Vorsitz” of this board – there are 28 Chairmen, 1 Chairperson and 1 Chairwoman.

However, things become much more diffuse when it comes to the “Vorstand” and its “Vorsitz”. There are 10 Boards of Management and 10 Executive Boards, followed by 6 Management Boards, 2 Boards of Executive Directors,1 Managing Board and 1Board of Managing Directors. This represents a total of six differing designations for the same German function.

The man at the top is called the Chairman 19 times, CEO 7 times and twice both Chairman and CEO and President and CEO.

There may be historical or structural reasons for these designations.

Figures in the DAX 30 companies

What is much more surprising is the lack of agreement on the simple manner of expressing figures in the 2010 annual reports of the DAX 30 companies.

 25 corporations simply used the “€” currency symbol, 2 used “EUR”, 1 chose “euro” and 2 opted for “euros”.

When expressing larger figures, 13 companies used “million”, 8 preferred “millions”, 6 used the simple “m” and 3 presented figures in “thousand”.

 The “€” was placed before  the figure in 28 cases, and after the figure in 2 cases.


The Economist prescribes use of currency symbols €/$/¥/£ and the abbreviated “m” to denote million(s).

Conversely, ISO recommends a three-figure currency code[1], e.g. EUR, USD, GBP, JPY, while the Financial Times uses “€3bn”: the currency symbol, figure and abbreviation of billion without spaces between the symbol, figure or unit of measure.

The Wall Street Journal uses the “€” followed by the figure, then a space followed by million (e.g. €24 million).

Even within EU institutions, there is inconsistency on the plural of “euro”. In its English Style Guide[2], the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation specifies the use of “euros”, whereas EU legislation sometimes uses “euro” for the plural[3] and sometimes “euros”[4].

However the currency is expressed (as “€”, “EUR” or “euro”), the plural forms “millions”, “billions” and “thousands” should not be used when writing figures such as “EUR 10 billion”, but only in contexts such as “The government spent tens of billions of dollars on buying back government bonds”.

EVS Translations operates in line with customer requirements and customer style guides. As a general rule, it recommends the following format for currency: EUR 10 billion (abbreviated in tables to EUR 10 bn).


[1] http://www.iso.org/iso/support/faqs/faqs_widely_used_standards/widely_used_standards_other/ currency_codes/currency_codes_list-1.htm

[2] English Style Guide, seventh edition, retrieved on Jan. 14, 2012

[3] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:343:0035:01:EN:HTML, accessed on Jan. 14, 2012