Degree Symbol

Rules and Examples

Punctuation marksThe degree symbol is a small circle ( ° ) used with temperatures, latitude and longitude, and angles of a circle.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

The degree is also called a degree sign or a degree symbol.

On the keyboard

Most keyboards used in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Belgium have the degree symbol directly on the keyboard.

Keyboards used in English-speaking countries do not have the degree symbol on the keyboard.

We make the degree symbol holding the ALT key and typing 248 or 0176 on the keypad on the right side of the keyboard.

In Microsoft Office, the INSERT MENU can also be used. Choose INSERT SYMBOL and insert the degree symbol.

Rules for using the degree

Use the degree symbol for temperatures in Celsius (C) and Fahrenheit (F)

Fahrenheit is the temperature scale that is used in the United States. It is abbreviated by a capital F.

All other countries use Celsius as their temperature scale. Celsius is part of the metric system. We abbreviate Celsius with a capital C.

When writing something informal, you can either use the degree symbol or write out the word "degrees."

When writing for science, use the degree symbol.

  • Water freezes at 32° F or 0° C.

  • The temperature will reach 85° Fahrenheit in Atlanta, Georgia today.

  • London, England will see temperatures around 30° C this afternoon.

  • Bobby is home today because he has a temperature of 100°.

  • Please convert 212° Fahrenheit to Celsius.

Spacing with the degree symbol and temperatures

Style books do not agree on the spacing with the degree symbol and temperature abbreviations.

Some style books, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, tell us to not put a space between the temperature, degree symbol, and unit of measurement.

  • 10°C 
  • 35­°F

Other style books, such as The AMA Handbook of Business Writing, tell writers to put one space after the degree symbol.

  • 10° C
  • 35° F

Some scientific guides advise writers to put a space before the degree symbol.

  • 10 °C
  • 35 °F

The space between the degree symbol and the temperature scale is really just a matter of the style guide you use. In most cases, it should not matter which style you choose to follow.

If you are writing for a class, ask your teacher which style to follow. But be consistent. Use the same style throughout a piece of writing!

In mathematics, we use the degree symbol for degrees of an angle or circle

  • A full circle is 360°.

    (= A full circle is 360 degrees.)

  • A right angle is 90°.

    (= A right angle is 90 degrees.)

  • Please draw a 25° angle.

    (= Please draw a 25-degree angle.)
measuring degrees

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

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