Posted by: Jack Henry | December 27, 2022

Editor’s Corner: 100 Percent!

I remember when I started editing here at Jack Henry, I had a lot of questions. In fact, I did so much research, it felt like that was my job. Over the years, I don’t need Merriam-Webster or the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) quite as much, but they are still only a click away. Today’s topic is one I remember looking up, but I can’t remember if I shared this information with you.

Today’s topic is percent and percentages. I’ll cover the following:

· Which word should we use?

· Should we spell out the word or use the symbol (%)?

· What if we are talking about a range of percentages?

I’m here, and I’m ready with answers! Since we follow the CMOS in technical publications, I am providing explanations that follow the same rules.

Which word should we use?

Percent: Percent should be used when you need an adverb or an adjective. Here is an example of each:

  • Adverb: Statistics show that 90 percent of the children who were juniors and seniors in high school during COVID did not feel ready for college. (In this case, percent means “out of 100.”)
  • Adjective: I achieved a 50 percent increase in gray hair coverage last time I dyed my hair. (Here, 50% modifies increase.)

Percentage: Percentage is the noun form of the word.

  • Noun: Nicole donates a percentage of her paychecks to the Salvation Army.

Should we spell out the word or use the symbol (%)?

According to our buddies at CMOS, the rule depends more on your audience and content than anything else. Nontechnical writing usually requires that you write out percent, for example “My dog would eat 25 percent more food if I would let her.”

Since our writers here are called “technical writers,” we assume that our content is technical in nature, and our writers use the symbol, for example, “The interest rate is up 1.5% compared to last year.” There is no space between the numbers and the symbol.

What about a range of percentages?

There are several ways to write a range of percentages:

  • 20% to 30%
  • 20%–30%
  • Between 20% and 30%

Who knew there were so many questions about percent and percentages in everyday use? Well, now you know how to use them correctly at Jack Henry!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams |

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