It's easy to confuse the newton meter with newton times a meter, which is a joule and a unit of energy. The difference is between a force that creates a twist, (rotates an object about some point) and a push through some distance. For example, exerting a 1 N force on a door 1 m from the hinges would be a torque of 1 . If an object (like a door) is pushed through a distance of 1 m with 1 N then 1 J worth of work is done. This is why the newton meter is written out specifically as .
For more information please see Newton meter.
- R. D. Knight, "Work," in Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach, 2nd ed. San Francisco, U.S.A.: Pearson Addison-Wesley, 2008, pp. 325–327