At least some pathologists have a requirement for test result data to be represented on the screen exactly as it currently appears on the paper reports. This means that if a Hepatitis C RNA result comes out expressed using scientific notation with an exponent of 5, then the result should appear on the screen using scientific notation with an exponent of 5.

The use of scientific notation is common in pathology, and seems to stem from the visual ease of reading results when mantisse - the value - and exponent are separated. E.g. the

number 8.5 x 10^5 is easier to read than "8,500,000".

An important part of the requirement is that the exponent will be the same for all values for a given analyte, for all patients; i.e. the value 1,150,000 will be displayed as 11.5x10^5, even though 1.15x10^6 would be the canonical form. This approach means a) that all mantissas for a given analyte are directly comparable visually, and that b) they can completely ignore the exponent part of the number.