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Percent or Percentage?

Date: 05/14/2002 at 11:31:37
From: Deb Rafter
Subject: Percents

Would you please explain the exact difference between the words 
percent and percentage?  I have used textbooks that use them as 
if they are the same.  I have have always explained it as percent 
is a % and percentage is a number that is the same unit as the 
base number.

                              Thank You,

                                   Deb Raf

Date: 05/14/2002 at 12:28:32
From: Doctor Sarah
Subject: Re: Percents

Hi Deb - thanks for writing to Dr. Math.

You're on the right track, and even a regular dictionary can help 
with this.

   percent -  one part in a hundred

   percentage -  a part of a whole expressed in 
                 hundredths; the result obtained by 
                 multiplying a number by a percent

From the Guide to Grammar and Writing on the Web ("Notorious 

   "We use the word percent as part of a numerical 
    expression (e.g., Only two percent of the students 
    failed.). We use the word percentage to suggest 
    a portion (e.g., The percentage of students who 
    fail has decreased.)."

Unfortunately, you will find percent and percentage incorrectly 
used everywhere on the Web and in textbooks.

- Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum 

Date: 04/10/2003 at 09:48:22
From: Julie Bellows
Subject: Percent versus percentage

Is there a difference between the meaning of these two words, or are 
they totally interchangeable?  

I always thought the word percent required the correct notation using 
the symbol % and that percentage was referred to as AN AMOUNT BASED ON 

For example: Given 4/16  
The percentage is 4 out of a total of 16, the percent is 25%

Date: 04/10/2003 at 11:07:01
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: Percent versus percentage

Hi, Julie.

To answer your specific question, I would say "the fraction used is 
4 out of 16; the percentage is 25% [read as 25 percent]." That is, 
both "percent" and "percentage" refer to an amount "out of 100" (since 
that is what "per cent" means), and the only difference is how they 
are used in a sentence. We (should) use "percent" only in phrases like 
"25 percent" where it can be directly replaced by the phrase "out of 
100"; we use "percentage" as a name for the concept.

My American Heritage dictionary has this usage note:

  _Percent_ and _percentage_ are both used to express quantity with
  relation to a whole. _Percent_ is employed only specifically and
  always with a number or numeral. _Percentage_ is never preceded by
  such a figure, but should be qualified by a general term to
  indicate size (since _percentage_ does not necessarily imply
  smallness). The number of the noun that follows _percent_ or
  _percentage_, or is understood to follow them, governs the choice
  of the verb: _Forty percent of his estate is in securities. A
  large percentage of the patients are children._

If you have any further questions, feel free to write back.

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum 
Associated Topics:
Elementary Definitions
Elementary Fractions

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