Definition:Tally Marks

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Tally marks are a system of recording (usually) small numbers.

For each unit in a given natural number, a mark is made.

Thus, for example, $13$ could be recorded $|||||||||||||$.

It is usual for tally marks to be arranged in groups of $5$, by drawing every fifth line diagonally across the group of $4$ before it.

Thus $13$ would then be recorded:


Historical Note

Tally marks are the earliest known records of numbers.

However, the technique is still useful, for example, when recording the number of instances of events of irregular frequency.

Also see