Submitted by tessa  •  November 1, 2007

Percents or Percentages

Help! I have an annual report ready to go to print....Can someone please tell me which footnote is grammatically correct?

Percents do not add to 100 because members may indicate more than one business activity.

OR

Percentages do not add to 100 because members may indicate....

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Tessa, know this is way past your due date but why not say "the total percentage was not 100...

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In the context used,

Percent is more correctly the percent symbol, a typographical thingy.

Percentage is the mathematical meaning implied.

The correct usage for that particular context is 'percentage'.

Commonly, 'percent' is the correct word when saying something like

"In our estimation, 5 percent were excluded.*"

"*Percentages do not add to 100 because members may indicate more than one business activity."

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Don't keep us in suspense, Tessa. Which did you use?

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Yes, but it also takes up more space on precious real estate....so it's a balancing act. Thanks so much for the feedback. The report is on press right now.

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...but "percentages" sounds better!

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The handy online edition of the Columbia Guide to Standard American English helpfully notes: "Percentage is the more widely accepted noun, especially in Edited English." But "percent" is probably so entrenched at this point that most people would find it equally acceptable.

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