6

In the sentence –

Auditors recommend an increase of the allowance for bad debts by ten %.

– should the percent sign be there or should the word percent be spelled out. Also should the number be written in a numeral format?

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    Please see also Writing. Good Luck. – Kris May 20 at 10:20
16

In general, it is good practice that the symbol that a number is associated with agrees with the way the number is written (in numeric or text form). For example, $3 instead of 3 dollars.

Note that this doesn't apply when the numbers are large, so it is perfectly fine to write 89.5 percent, as eighty-nine-and-a-half percent is very clunky.

This source puts it simply:

When writing percentages and money references, use the numeral with the percent or dollar sign.

Also, this answer on Academia.SE says "APA version 6 style manual has an entire section starting from 4.31 on how to present numbers in text" and provides a summary.

Therefore, you should write either 10% or ten percent - note that it is a common mistake for some to write per and cent separately. For some classical humour, check out this xkcd post.

What is incorrect is for the number to be written in text form but not for the symbol. That is, ten % or £ five is not good phrasing.

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    +1. But I've quickly edited your post to show how we prefer our links/references to be explained, since links sometimes break and a reference without an explanation then becomes meaningless. :-) – Chappo May 20 at 7:44
  • @Chappo Thanks for taking your time to improve my answer. – TheSimpliFire May 20 at 7:44
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    Note that it is not a mistake to write per cent in the UK or Canada (and perhaps in other places or according to some style guides), where it is the accepted spelling of the word, which is derived from per centum. – Jason Bassford May 20 at 17:44
11

If you're writing out the number then write out 'percent', e.g. ten percent, otherwise use the sign, e.g. 10%.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • 5
    I'm not disagreeing with your answer, but it would be so much more useful if you could add a reference as evidence in support of it, to distinguish it from mere opinion or personal practice/preference. I can't upvote it as it stands, whereas with a little effort it could easily pick up votes not just this week, but (given there's no other answer I can find on our site) regularly over time! :-) – Chappo May 20 at 7:24
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    @Kris With your 33K rep and 7.5 years on the site, you should know to upvote instead of commenting "I agree". – David Richerby May 20 at 12:33

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