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Writing out percentages correctly

I work in the legal field and it is necessary to write out percentages. I need help. Is this the correct way? For 4.975% - would it be written “Four and Nine Hundred Seventy-Five Thousands percent”.

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In my view it is entirely proper to write the digital/symbol form. I always write numbers up to ninety-nine in words, greater numbers in digits, and percentages as described.

semiotek July 19, 2006, 6:58am

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You're close, Marsha.

4.975% would be "Four and nine-hundred seventy five thousandths percent" (fractional thousands).

Although why a legal office would have a need for significant figures to three decimal places is beyond my comprehension.

As to writing out numbers, I follow Associated Press style, which is to write out one through ten or any number that begins a sentence or quote, and use numerals for all numbers 11 and above. Decimal numbers are always written as numerals, in this style. But I suppose every industry can have its own standard.

jeffrey July 19, 2006, 8:55am

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If the Recovery (read it Money) is in the millions [of dollars], even 4 decimal places would make a SIGNIFICANT figures.

Jim Van July 19, 2006, 9:42am

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While I don't doubt that a thousandth of a couple million dollars would be significant, I do doubt that such figures can be reliable (i.e. significant figures in the scientific sense).

jeffrey July 20, 2006, 8:35am

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I would write: "four point nine seven five percent".

What does the firm you work for recommend as the accepted style?

Chris July 21, 2006, 6:53am

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Definitely write 4.975%; if it is more than ninety-nine, you use numbers. Maybe spell out percent.

Kurt July 23, 2006, 2:30pm

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Everyone, read Marsha's request a little more carefully:
"I work in the legal field and it is necessary to write out percentages."
It really doesn't matter what any style manual says. I'm no expert, but I do believe that, by law, percentages have to be spelled out in words when mentioned in contracts, etc.

porsche July 23, 2006, 8:12pm

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I would agree with Auto, except that I would finish with "of a percent", ie "Four and nine-hundred seventy five thousandths of a percent".

I also agree with porsche. Anyone suggesting otherwise is missing the point.

Auto, if your commission on a $64 billion merger is Four and nine-hundred seventy five thousandths of a percent, just send me the five thousandths of a percent, if you consider it insignificant. ;-)

Dave July 24, 2006, 3:04pm

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I'm not saying that five thousandths of a percent of $64 billion is not significant. It's certainly a lot of money.

But in working with figures, rounding, inaccuracy, and terms of mathematical calculation bring insignificance into the figures used.

For example:

When multiplying 4.5 times 3.25, your result is 14.625, but because the you only know to an exact amount the tenths figure (4.5) in the first item, that result must be rounded to the tenths place ... making it 14.6. If, however, you knew the first figure to be not 4.5 but 4.52, the result is 14.69, a figure that does not need to be rounded. Even if you knew the hundreths place to be zero, 4.50 times 3.25 is still 14.625, and know you know significance to the hundreths place -- 14.62.

Since its unlikely that in the original accounting or contracts, figures were recorded to the fourth place after the decimal point (when is the last time you took out a bank loan with an APR of 5.2546? I bet it was an APR of 5.25), any results from multiplication or division of the figures would only be mathematically significant to the second place after the decimal point. That they are financially significant is a non-issue.

jeffrey July 26, 2006, 8:13am

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If it's for legal reasons and you must write the number out, I'm with Chris.

Four point nine seven five percent.

The point of a decimal is to do away with messy fractions. Otherwise you might as well just say "four and thirty-nine out of forty percent."

Jon August 3, 2006, 6:38pm

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i don't know if i would rely on the numeric value of the number to determine whether you should spell it out or use numerals. the best way to go is, if you need to use more than two words to describe the number, it's best to use the numerals. "2.8" become "two point eight" so you would use numbers "1,000,000" would become "one million" so it's best to write it out.

Kevin August 31, 2006, 12:31am

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Auto - Marsha has asked how to write out a percentage, because she has been told to at work. It seems to me that she really does want to find an answer, not just discuss the point, so to say she shouldn't do it at all is not really helping.

Also, in legal areas it is essential to be exactly accurate to what has been said, promised, etc. If the figure 4.975% is relevant, it needs to be recorded in its original form, not rounded and, apparently, in words (to ensure clarity when read out?).

Marsha - no doubt the job you needed this advice for has been done by now, but here is my best guess at the right way to write a percentage out:

I remember a physics teacher telling me that, as a nice and clear way to tell when you were talking about numbers before or after a decimal point, after the point you should dispense with units, tens, hundreds, etc. and just list off the numbers. So, as Chris suggested, 4.975% becomes "four point nine seven five percent".

Percentage came to us as part of the metric numeric system, along with metres, litres and kilos, all of which use decimals not fractions. Therefore it seems inappropriate to me to use the imperial convention of fractions when reading a percentage.

At the end of the day though, consistency is the most important rule. However you write out percentages, if you and your collegues do it the same for long enough, THAT will be the correct way.

Fryett August 31, 2006, 3:26am

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I'm no mathematician, but I don't understand how you can have 3 figures as a percentage of 100...percent is latin for 100 and what follows the point wd have to be a fraction or smaller number than 100 or it wd make no sense.
From my newspaper experience it would have been written out in numbers (once more than a total single number is involved).

eswiftet September 9, 2006, 9:28pm

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I agree with some of you: let's leave the discussion of significant figures alone; I don't have my physics textbook handy and I don't doubt the necessity of including so many decimals. (For one thing, I worked at a bank for three years, and we certainly did use several decimal places in certain circumstances: just think of currency exchange rates taken out to six figures on a regular basis.)

Also, in legal writing precision is often more highly valued than succinctness, for many logical reasons. If a check were taken to court, it would be the value written out in words, not in numerals, that would count. Writing an essay is different from writing a legal document.

Let's say "four and nine(-)hundred(-)seventy-five (one-)thousandths percent." I might have to look up those parenthetical hyphens to be sure.

Benjamin C. Lauer September 11, 2006, 10:23pm

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Regarding "... of a percent"; I've heard this before and even said it, but now that I think about it, I don't think it's really correct grammatically. Percent literally means "per hundred". "Per" is already a preposition. Use of "of" would be a double preposition. It would be like saying "I was driving sixty five miles of a per hour."

porsche September 12, 2006, 6:08am

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Also it's interesting that in English, cent can mean either one hundred (from the latin centum) or one hundredth (from the latin centesimus)

porsche September 12, 2006, 6:15am

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Excuse the brain freeze above. i didn't get much sleep last night. Clearly, "of a percent" would be used for something with a fraction of one percent, e.g. "a half of a percent" (or "a half of one percent") and would be correct. I think some style manuals say that "...of a..." should only be used with fractions and not with decimals: "three quarters of a percent" is ok and "point seven five percent", but not "point seven five of a percent". I don't think the "of a" would be required, per se, at least not when the percentage is greater than one, and also not used if the numbers (and/or the word "percent") are not spelled out at words.

porsche September 12, 2006, 7:53am

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Looks like the ABA has to be the final entity to give Marsha (and others) the answer. They must come up with the standard. I do know that it is not a matter of [English] grammar nor scientific, mathematic included. When it comes to law (in any country), it has its own "language". Haven't you all heard: "don't talk law jargon to me, speak English!"
See Marsha what you have started? It IS one of the interesting topics I've seen [here].

Jim Van September 18, 2006, 7:38am

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I'll bet if you call up the mortgage department of your bank, someone there will know the answer off the top of their head.

Anonymous September 18, 2006, 11:16am

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Since I'm not an English native speaker, I need someone who will explain to me how the following percentage is written in words: 23.5.

curious February 5, 2007, 7:40am

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how about .75%? how would I write that? seventy five hundredths of a percent?

Janine July 18, 2007, 7:15am

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Yes, how would you write .75%? Does anyone know?

Me too November 9, 2007, 5:52am

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I was taught in my college comp class to always write out percentages in numerical form.

Jake February 6, 2008, 3:02pm

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how do I spell out 6.85%

mkarn July 28, 2008, 8:18am

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I need to know to write out 5.65%. Thank you.

carole.reader November 25, 2008, 7:07am

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"Percent," as Porsche pointed out, means "per hundred" and so it has this inbuilt preposition. The "percent" is also usually treated like a unit of measurement (like kg, m, lb, etc). Therefore, I'd say that "Four and Nine Hundred Seventy-Five Thousandths percent" makes sense. You could perhaps alternatively say "Four and Nine Hundred Seventy-Five Thousandths of a percentage point" but that makes the already stilted lawyerese even worse in my opinion!

AO November 26, 2008, 2:18am

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Always done it: 39 percent, no matter what the numerical value, in some instances a paper may call for it to be thirty-nine (39%) percent also but that's really old old old legal-ese stuff

maggiefisher March 5, 2009, 2:59am

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We do this frequently for our state legislature. Bills typically require all numbers to be written out. Our local gross receipts tax, for example, has 4 decimal places.

Four and Nine Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousandths percent

To use "of a percent" (not recommended):
Four percent and Nine Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousands of a percent

info March 9, 2009, 4:08pm

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How do I write in words .069445%

glogirlwarner March 8, 2010, 10:33am

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For those of you who insist it should be "four and nine hundred seventy five thousandths percent" or something similar. Here's something to consider. Let's say we ask a few simpler questions in reverse:

How would you write "four point five percent" using only arabic numerals and symbols?

Answer: 4.5%

How would you write "four and a half percent" using only arabic numerals and symbols?

Answer: 4-1/2%

Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?

porsche March 8, 2010, 12:52pm

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Oh, and to make the analogy complete, how would you write "four and five tenths percent" using only arabic numerals and symbols?

Answer: 4-5/10%

porsche March 8, 2010, 12:55pm

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The reason it needs to be spelled out is for clarification. Sometimes, depending on the font used, time passing and eroding the paper, scanning, etc, the numbers become difficult to read. a 8 can look like a 3 a 7 like a 1, etc. This is why it is required that on Legal Documents which includes numbers also be spelled out. I came upon this site because I too work in the legal field and need help with how to spell out 2.04 percent. I think it is two and four one-hundredths percent, but wanted to be sure. Any body out there have an answer?

Daydreamer September 2, 2011, 3:25am

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You write it as "2.04%". You pronounce it as "two point oh four percent".

jgh October 3, 2011, 10:50pm

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Hi All, I looked this up because I too am in the legal field and was trying to determint how to write out an APR of .2%...legalease as you have called it, does indeed REQUIRE that numbers in any form be typed or written out in addition to showing the numerical value.

So, is it Point two percent, or is it Two-tenths Percent?

Addie June 20, 2013, 7:35am

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How do you write in words the following:


Gloriann March 2, 2016, 8:18am

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Two point zero four five nine percent

People here would say 'oh' instead of zero but in a legal document zero would seem more appropriate.
Again 0.45 might be 'zero point four five', although people might actually say 'nought'

jayles the unwoven March 2, 2016, 9:12am

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Regarding putting 2.0459% into words - I need the wordage to be in legal terms. For instance, 2.459% would be two and four hundred fifty-nine thousandths percent. I'm just not sure of the wordage when there's 4 numbers behind the decimal.

Gloriann March 2, 2016, 10:17am

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putting 2.0459% into legal terms:
a) two and four hundred fifty-nine tenthousandths percent

b) one could recast the numbers and words using per mille
or parts-per-million; but the end result would be no clearer to my mind

c) 2.00459% two and four hundred fifty-nine hundredthousandths percent

d) caveat: I am no lawyer and no experience of drafting

jayles the unwoven March 7, 2016, 4:57pm

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How do I write out 32.32%?


Joan April 8, 2016, 9:53am

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@Joan I would suggest:
thirty-two and thirty-two-hundredths percent
thirty-two and thirty-two hundredths percent

jayles the unwoven April 10, 2016, 7:42am

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how do I type out or write 1 and 42 hundredths percent

Laura Evans April 25, 2016, 5:06am

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cris May 13, 2016, 6:56am

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I need to write out 65.25476% for a document. Can you help

Diana Kay June 21, 2016, 9:50am

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10% or ten percent (in a legal contractor)? Not at the beginning of a sentence.

M. Daly August 23, 2016, 7:47am

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It seems to me that the natural way to write figures as words would be the same way as we say them. So 65.25476% would be sixty-five point two five four seven six percent. If the decimals only go to two or three places then we might talk about hundredths or thousandths but rarely beyond that.

jayles the threaper August 23, 2016, 3:57pm

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gyufytf November 18, 2016, 9:20am

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Except for a few basic rules, spelling out numbers vs. using figures (also called numerals) is largely a matter of writers' preference. Again, consistency is the key.
Rule 1 - Spell out all numbers beginning a sentence.
Rule 2 - Hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.
Rule 3 - Hyphenate all written-out fractions.
Rule 4 - With figures of four or more digits, use commas. Count three spaces to the left to place the first comma. Continue placing commas after every three digits.
Rule 5 - It is not necessary to use a decimal point or a dollar sign when writing out sums of less than a dollar.
Rule 6 - Do not add the word "dollars" to figures preceded by a dollar sign.
Rule 7 - For clarity, use noon and midnight rather than 12:00 PM and 12:00 AM.
Rule 8 - Using numerals for the time of day has become widely accepted.
Rule 9 - Mixed fractions are often expressed in figures unless they begin a sentence.
Rule 10 -

olivia November 30, 2016, 10:50pm

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I'm not really sure, but most of the people did it correct I think :)

latte March 2, 2017, 7:41pm

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I am wondering how you say this percentage in words:
.00011 percent.
Is it something like:
One hundredth and one thousandth of one percent??

I am trying to show how SMALL 1100 parts per billion is...

Thank you,


Joanna Said March 21, 2017, 4:58am

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Can the word percent ever be written as two separate words? Do the people in the UK write it as per cent?

DebbieA May 16, 2017, 7:18pm

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I do work in the legal field, and @ DebbieA, we do not write "percent" when writing out a percentage. We write it as "per cent". Also, I realize this conversation originated quite some time ago, but - speaking from experience - you MUST write out percentages in legal documents. For instance, in a promissory note, you would say that there was a principal sum with interest "at the rate of three and nine-tenths per cent (3.9%) per annum..." Percentages written out can be very tricky though. I still catch myself having to count exactly how many digits over from the decimal point the percentage goes, so that I will accurately reflect that amount when putting it into words.

Ashkr May 31, 2017, 10:05am

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i am stuck on a legal document: how to express "four whole seventy-three thousand percent"

Sagrario Holbrook March 3, 2018, 12:45pm

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Four and seventy-three thousandths per cent ??? (4.073%)

jayles March 4, 2018, 12:08am

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Yes     No