I'm trying to craft an appropriately worded error message for an application I'm working on.

It boils down to when a calculated value results in having too many decimal places it can't be correctly calculated by the application.

My initial thought for an error message would be something like

Decimal too large to be calculated accurately.

I'm trying to convey the too large to mean a fraction with to many decimal places. But obviously to large means something else. What would the correct term be?

For a more literal example; when 0.0017985611510791366 is used in the program it throws an error. When 0.002 is used it doesn't.

  • Start by using two o's in too. What is wrong with Result has too many decimals to be calculated accurately? – mplungjan Aug 8 '14 at 14:31
  • Are you saying you want an error message to display when a calculated value comes up irrational like that example? Or when a long decimal is inputted? Because if a calculated value comes up irrational, depending on the application there should be ways to limit the decimal points used. Please clarify. – fuandon Aug 8 '14 at 14:32
  • Originally used two o's then removed one o thinking it was wrong. Whoops. – Ally Aug 8 '14 at 14:33
  • @fuandon It's nothing to do with irrational numbers. It's to do with just having too many decimal places, it throws an error rather than attempting a calculation that might fall prey to rounding errors. – Ally Aug 8 '14 at 14:34
  • 1
    @fuandon There are no irrational numbers shown in the question. But I agree, the question is confused. I'm struggling to get my head round the idea of how the accuracy of a calculation might be determined by the number of decimal places in an input. – Rupe Aug 8 '14 at 14:35

How about

Maximum precision exceeded in calculation


Of course that would imply you're using some arbitrary precision level in your application. If you have questions about the language you're using and the level of precision, perhaps try StackOverflow?

A few of @Rupe's suggestions were good too.

  • I have to express that I really like this sentence. (: – Neeku Aug 8 '14 at 14:54
  • This describes the situation perfectly, thank you. – Ally Aug 8 '14 at 15:10

In the engineering disciplines, the error of specifying more digits than is warranted is known as "overprecision".

Per Wikipedia's article on false precision:

Overprecision (false precision, fake precision, misplaced precision and spurious accuracy) occurs when numerical data are presented in a manner that implies better precision than is actually the case; since precision is a limit to accuracy, this often leads to overconfidence in the accuracy as well.


Imagine when you use an application and you get an error message. You (or most) want it short, sweet, and to the point... besides, you may not even read the whole thing word-for-word.

Keeping in mind that the more "precise" a number/fraction, the more decimal places it will have. Use statements with buzz words:

  • Max precise value is not to exceed the nearest 100th (x.xx). Edit precise value to refelct fewer decimal places.
  • Decrease decimal value to the nearest 100th
  • Maximum decimal places exceeded. Please decrease precise value to the nearest 100th
  • Fractional/numeric/precise values must only displayed to 100th place

It may be a good idea to give those a heads up that 100th place is... well.... what ever it is. I believe it is the "second" place. Maybe include an example like "remove X.XX "

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