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In a sentence like "The answer is 0.8." the period looks awkward after "0.8". Is there a rule for a situation like this? Sometimes I put a space before the period like this: "The answer is 0.8 ." However, that looks awkward too.

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You might want to look at english.stackexchange.com/questions/31124/… I would say, though, that you should use the period just like you first example...right after the end of the sentence. –  JeffSahol Sep 19 '11 at 20:55
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What is worse, there are technical contexts where 1. is different from just 1. –  belisarius Sep 20 '11 at 1:52
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5 Answers 5

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Well, you have two options:

  • Option 1: re-arrange your sentence or invent some spurious phrase to put after the decimal so that it looks less obvious;
  • Option 2: don't worry about it and just have a cup of tea.
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To be entirely pedantic, the decimal point is only shown by convention as a period. Correctly typeset the decimal point is actually in the vertical middle. If your keyboard would cooperate, I think you would not have a problem. –  Fraser Orr Sep 19 '11 at 22:24
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@FraserOrr What's "vertical middle"? Wouldn't it be like the multiplication dot then? –  Dima Sep 19 '11 at 22:40
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Fraser -- that's an interesting point (no pun). But they're both just conventions, of course, and in most everyday texts, it's unusual to centre the decimal point. I suppose I (maybe wrongly) assumed that the OP was referring to using the common convention of not centring the decimal point. (Hoping not to get into an argument about symbols for scalar and dot products at this point.) –  Neil Coffey Sep 20 '11 at 4:52
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@TyrantWave = 16! –  Daniel Sep 20 '11 at 11:37
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@drm65 = Factorial 16? no way! :P –  Jordaan Mylonas Sep 21 '11 at 12:22
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When we use a number without a decimal point at the end of a sentence, we use a period in a way we use it after the last word. The same rule should be applied for ending the sentence whether it ends with a word or a number, with or without a decimal. If you refer to some accounting books, they use it the same way you have used in your example.

Enter the total Taxable Amount of 400.00 and Total Tax Due City or Co. of $11.00.

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Welcome to English Language & Usage! Thanks for contributing! –  John Tobler Sep 20 '11 at 21:28
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I will write it as: The answer is 0·8. I have used an interpunct (·) as the decimal point.

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I wouldn't understand that. I'd read that as either some kind of tuple or some kind of multiplication. –  CodesInChaos Sep 21 '11 at 10:34
    
It may be because of the wide use of . (full stop) as the decimal point. However, the above is the way numbers are to be written; normally. –  Alan Haggai Alavi Sep 21 '11 at 10:54
    
I have never seen it used as such. All English texts I've read so far used . as decimal point. Is · only used as decimal point in handwriting? –  CodesInChaos Sep 21 '11 at 10:58
    
That does not make it correct. . (full stop) is used in printed materials as it is convenient and available on almost every keyboard. –  Alan Haggai Alavi Sep 21 '11 at 11:11
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-1: While the interpunct was once the preferred symbol to use as a separator between integer and fractional parts of a number, it has fallen out of use for this purpose. The wikipedia entry for interpunct specifically states: "In SI units the middle dot or NBSP is used as a multiply. Only a comma or full stop (period) may be used as a decimal marker." –  oosterwal Sep 21 '11 at 14:45
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It doesn't look strange to me, and it's not wrong.

Certainly, you don't want to
1. put a space after it, or
2. add a "spurious" phrase because that will (a) make the sentence illogical and (b) produce sloppy writing due to the unnecessary words.

The other advice you received is good:
1. Revise the sentence to avoid this issue,
2. Add the identifier, if possible (0.8 what?),
3. Get accustomed to it.

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Either rewrite the sentence or paragraph so it doesn't end with the number, or write it as you should with any normal sentence and put a period at the end:

The answer is 0.8.

That looks much neater to me than The answer is 0.8 ..

If you're not dealing with mathematics or plain numbers, then another approach is to mention the units (which is often a good idea anyway):

The answer is 0.8 litres.

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+1, naked numbers rarely have a place in text. –  Konrad Rudolph Sep 20 '11 at 9:40
    
@KonradRudolph: outside pure mathematic text, at least. –  Lie Ryan Sep 20 '11 at 10:38
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Or reports citing statistics, or engineering work, surveying, planning, scientific contexts, among others... –  Nicholas Wilson Sep 21 '11 at 12:06
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