For most engineering applications, MKS (rationalized) or SI (Système International) units are commonly used. Two other sets of units, Gaussian and CGS-EMU, are the same for magnetic properties, and are commonly used in physics.

In all units it is convenient to employ two types of magnetic field, B and H, as well as the magnetization M, defined as the magnetic moment per unit volume.

The magnetic induction field B is given in SI units of teslas (T). B is the true magnetic field, whose time variation produces, by Faraday's Law, circulating electric fields (which the power companies sell). B also produces a deflection force on moving charged particles (as in TV tubes). The tesla is equivalent to the magnetic flux (in webers) per unit area (in meters squared), thus giving B the unit of a flux density. In CGS, the unit of B is the gauss (G). One tesla equals 104 G.

The magnetic field H is given in SI units of ampere-turns per meter (A-turn/m). The turns appears because when H is produced by a current-carrying wire, its value is proportional to the number of turns of that wire. In CGS, the unit of H is the oersted (Oe). One A-turn/m equals 4π×10−3 Oe.

The magnetization M is given in SI units of ampere per meter (A/m). In CGS, the unit of M is the oersted (Oe). One A/m equals 10−3 emu/cm3. A good permanent magnet can have a magnetization as large as a million amperes per meter.

In SI units, the relation B = μ0(H + M) holds, where μ0 is the permeability of space, which equals 4π×10−7 T·m/A. In CGS, it is written as B = H + 4πM. [The pole approach gives μ0H in SI units. A μ0M term in SI must then supplement this μ0H to give the correct field within B the magnet. It will agree with the field B calculated using Ampèrian currents.]

Materials that are not permanent magnets usually satisfy the relation M = χH in SI, where χ is the (dimensionless) magnetic susceptibility. Most non-magnetic materials have a relatively small χ (on the order of a millionth), but soft magnets can have χ on the order of hundreds or thousands. For materials satisfying M = χH, we can also write B = μ0(1 + χ)H = μ0μrH = μH, where μr = 1 + χ is the (dimensionless) relative permeability and μ =μ0μr is the magnetic permeability. Both hard and soft magnets have a more complex, history-dependent, behavior described by what are called hysteresis loops, which give either B vs H, or M vs H. In CGS, M = χH, but χSI = 4πχCGS, and μ = μr.

Caution: in part because there are not enough Roman and Greek symbols, there is no commonly agreed upon symbol for magnetic pole strength and magnetic moment. The symbol m has been used for both pole strength (unit A·m, where here the upright m is for meter) and for magnetic moment (unit A·m2). The symbol μ has been used in some texts for magnetic permeability and in other texts for magnetic moment. We will use μ for magnetic permeability and m for magnetic moment. For pole strength we will employ qm. For a bar magnet of cross-section A with uniform magnetization M along its axis, the pole strength is given by qm = MA, so that M can be thought of as a pole strength per unit area.

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