Percent sign facts for kids
The percent (per cent) sign (%) is the symbol used to indicate a percentage, a number or ratio as a fraction of 100. Related signs include the permille (per thousand) sign ‰ and the permyriad (per ten thousand) sign ‱ (also known as a basis point), which indicate that a number is divided by one thousand or ten thousand respectively. Higher proportions use parts-per notation.
Form and spacing
English style guides prescribe writing the percent sign following the number without any space between (e.g. 50%). However, the International System of Units and ISO 31-0 standard prescribe a space between the number and percent sign, in line with the general practice of using a non-breaking space between a numerical value and its corresponding unit of measurement.
Other languages have other rules for spacing in front of the percent sign:
- In Czech and in Slovak, the percent sign is spaced with a non-breaking space if the number is used as a noun, whereas no space is inserted if the number is used as an adjective (e.g. “a 50% increase”).
- In Finnish, the percent sign is always spaced, and a case suffix can be attached to it using the colon (e.g. 50 %:n kasvu 'an increase of 50%').
- In French, the percent sign must be spaced with a non-breaking space.
- In Italian, the percent sign is never spaced.
- In Spanish, the percent sign must always be spaced now, as almost every other symbol.
- In Russian, the percent sign is rarely spaced, contrary to the guidelines of the GOST 8.417-2002 state standard.
- In Chinese, the percent sign is almost never spaced, probably because Chinese does not use spaces to separate characters or words at all.
- According to the Swedish Language Council, the percent sign should be preceded by a space in Swedish, as all other units.
- In German, the space is prescribed by the regulatory body in the national standard DIN 5008.
- In Turkish and other Turkic languages, the percent sign precedes rather than follows the number, without an intervening space.
- In Persian texts, the percent sign may either precede or follow the number, in either case without a space.
- In Arabic, the percent sign follows the number; as Arabic is written from right to left, this means that the percent sign is to the left of the number, usually without a space.
- In Hebrew, the percent sign is written to the right of the number, just as in English, without an intervening space. This is because numbers in Hebrew (which otherwise is written from right to left) are written from left to right, as in English.
Usage in text
It is often recommended that the percent sign only be used in tables and other places with space restrictions. In running text, it should be spelled out as percent or per cent (often in newspapers). For example, not "Sales increased by 24% over 2006", but rather "Sales increased by 24 percent over 2006".
Percent sign Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.