# What do you do when a sentence ends with a decimal?

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.

• 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. Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:55
• What is worse, there are technical contexts where `1.` is different from just `1`. Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 1:52

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.
• 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. Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 22:24
• @FraserOrr What's "vertical middle"? Wouldn't it be like the multiplication dot then?
– Dima
Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 22:40
• 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.) Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 4:52
• @TyrantWave = 16! Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 11:37
• @drm65 = Factorial 16? no way! :P Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 12:22

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:

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):

• @KonradRudolph: outside pure mathematic text, at least. Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 10:38
• Or reports citing statistics, or engineering work, surveying, planning, scientific contexts, among others... Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 12:06

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.

• Welcome to English Language & Usage! Thanks for contributing! Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 21:28

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.

1. Revise the sentence to avoid this issue,
2. Add the identifier, if possible (0.8 what?),
3. Get accustomed to it.

I will write it as: The answer is 0·8. I have used an interpunct (`·`) as the decimal point.

• I wouldn't understand that. I'd read that as either some kind of tuple or some kind of multiplication. Commented Sep 21, 2011 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. Commented Sep 21, 2011 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? Commented Sep 21, 2011 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. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 11:11
• -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." Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 14:45

I get this situation sometimes in business emails. Most of the time I'll just put in an extra space and start the next sentence with capital letter:

i.e. "Please note that we have processed wire transfer payment for \$25,250.75 Please confirm receipt when possible."

....or I'll just chill and have my latte. Don't sweat it.