Word Usage: Percent or Percentage?
The words percent and percentage are closely related—does it matter how they
are used in a sentence? Read this word usage tip to find out.
The rule for using percent and percentage is straightforward. The word percent (or the
symbol %) accompanies a specific number, whereas the more general word percentage is used without
percent (adverb, noun): of each hundred
Fifteen percent of the control group responded to treatment with Drug A.
More than 95% of the participants who responded to the survey reported positive results.
percentage (noun): part of a whole that can be expressed in
A large percentage of the population has been exposed to rotavirus.
The percentage of the population exposed to rotavirus is between 70% and 75%.
Quick Tips: Percent vs Percentage
- Always write out the number and the word percent at the beginning of a sentence (eg, "Ten
- The noun percentage requires an adjective to describe its size (eg, "a large percentage") when it does
not refer to specific numbers in the sentence.
- Some style guides recommend a numeral and the symbol % rather than the word percent, even if the
number is less than 10 (eg, "A total of 5%...").
Iverson C, Christiansen S, Flanagin A, et al. AMA Manual of Style:
A Guide for Authors and Editors. 10th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2007.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.; 2007.
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