Percent Sign

Rules and Examples

The percent sign ( % ) is a symbol used in the English language as an abbreviation for the word "percent."

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Percent is a mathematical term meaning one part of a hundred.

For example:percent sign
  • 25 out of 100 equals 25%

    (25 percent)

  • 50 out of 100 equals 50%

    (50 percent)

  • 75 out of 100 equals 75 %

    (75 percent)

  • 100 out of 100 equals 100%

    (100 percent)

The percent sign is mostly used in informal writing, advertisements or tables in research papers.

Newspapers and magazines might also use the percent sign to save space.

On the keyboard

The percent sign ( % ) is made on most American keyboards by holding the SHIFT key and pressing the number 5 on the top number line.

The percent sign can also be made by choosing INSERT SYMBOL and selecting the % sign.

Rules for using the percent sign

1. In most writing, we use the percent sign ( % ) if a number is written as a numeral.

A) In formal writing, numbers above nine are usually written as numerals.

  • 10%

  • 25%

  • 80%

  • 175%

B) All numbers in charts, mathematics, science and technical documents are usually written as numerals.

  • 25% of the children were male.

  • 5% + 5% = 10%

  • Almost 75% of all American college students have student loan debt.
pie chart

2. Use the word "percent" after numbers that are written as words.

In most writing, numbers below 10 are usually written out as words.



nine percent


9 percent


six percent


six %

3. In titles and headings, we usually write percent as a word.

The numbers before the percent follow the same rules as above, unless they begin a sentence.

A) Numbers below ten are written as words.

  • Among adults with strong literacy skills, only four percent live in poverty.

  • If a child reads as much as one million words per year, they will be in top two percent of all children on standardized reading tests.

B) Numbers ten and above are usually written as numerals.

  • Over 50 percent of NASA employees are dyslexic.

  • More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level.

  • Only about 15 percent of African American student entering high school are proficient in reading.

C) If you begin a sentence with a number, the number and percent are usually written as words.

  • Fourteen percent of all individuals have a learning disability.

  • Fifteen percent of all 4th graders read no faster than 74 words per minute.
dog reading

4. Newspapers and magazines usually use numerals and the percent sign to save space.

  • Among adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency, 43% live in poverty.

  • Only 31% of college graduates have high-level literacy skills.

  • 47% of students who took the ACT’s in 2009 did not meet the ACT College Readiness for the Reading section of the ACT Benchmark.

(Many of the reading statistics above are available from Scholastic.)

newspaper headlines

5. The percent sign is also used in advertisements to save space.

sale sign

These were the uses of the percent sign. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Read and do exercises.

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