There tend to be a few contradicting rules when looking at placing a space between a number and a percent sign. If you’re struggling with this idea, we’re here to help. We’ll teach you all you need to know to understand how percent signs work.
Do You Put a Space Before A Percent Sign?
There is no clear answer to placing a space before a percent sign. According to the International System of Units, the International Organization for Standardization, and other outlets, a space is required. According to The Chicago Manual of Style and other styles, a space is unnecessary.
Whether you include a space or not, the purpose of the percent sign in the sentence does not change.
We can use it in the following ways:
- With space: 15 %
- Without space: 15%
Technically speaking, both are correct. It depends entirely on which writing style you are working with.
In any case, the symbol for “percent” is required whenever you’re writing numbers. So, if you’ve included “15” or “25” or any other numerical value, you should include the percent sign along with it.
Do You Put a Space Before “Percent”?
You should always place a space before “percent” if you write it as a word. This is because it needs to be separate from the word you placed before it (usually a number). You might also use the abbreviation “pct.” The space still appears in this form.
Most style guides teach us that units of measurement that are made of letters always come with spaces between the number and the unit. So, if you’re using the abbreviation, it would look something like this:
- 100 pct
- 50 pct
There are no cases where the space is unnecessary.
Also, we only use “percent” as a word when we’re also writing the number as a word (i.e. “5” becomes “five”). This helps us to stay more uniform in our writing.
Since we’re writing numbers with letters, it makes sense to treat them as independent words. Thus, we should always include a space.
- Five percent
- Twenty percent
Should There Be a Space Before A Percent Sign In The UK?
There is no difference in usage when writing in UK English. The same rules still apply, meaning that you have the freedom to decide which style applies best for you. Both the space and non-space variations appear in UK English.
There is no specific reason or consensus that leads UK English users to pick one form over the other.
It might be more likely for the non-space variation (10%) to come up when using percentages in mathematical equations. However, if writing percentages in reports, it might be the case that the space is more useful (10 %).
There really is no way to determine which is more common. It depends entirely on the personal choice of the writer and the time and the purpose associated with why they need percentages in their writing.
Should There Be a Space Before A Percent Sign In The US?
The same applies when looking at US English. The international rules are unclear as to whether a space is needed or not. This gives the readers and writers the freedom to decide which variation works best for them. Again, it is based entirely on context.
You’ll often find that the percent sign is used without a space when writing equations or mathematical problems. This is standard practice for most people since you don’t often include spaces in mathematical equations.
On the flip side, you will find spaces more common if you’re writing the percentage as part of a sentence or report. It might help to break up the flow of the sentence a little bit if you see it written more like this:
- I’m going to have to ask for 10 % of the profits to find a way to do this.
Do You Write Percent Or Use The Symbol APA Style?
APA Style is the most common style used for academic writing. According to this style, you should use the word “percent” when you are writing numbers as words. You should use the symbol when you are using the numerical form of the numbers.
APA Style also states that any number greater than nine should be written in numerical style. This is made even more clear when you get to numbers beyond twenty since they get longer to write before percentage signs.
- Nine percent
- 21 %
Does The Percent Sign Go Before Or After The Number?
The percent sign always goes after the number. We use it in this way because it makes the most logical sense. When you see a percentage written down, you will read it as “number percent” rather than “percent number.” That’s why it makes sense to include the sign after.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this logic rule. For example, many currencies come before the number (i.e. £30) but are read with the currency after the number (i.e. thirty pounds).
However, when percent symbols are used, it’s good practice to stick with the symbol directly after the number. This helps to keep everything uniform and understandable for our readers.
- Correct: 15%
- Incorrect: %100
Is There A Hyphen Between A Number And Percent?
You do not need to include a hyphen between a number and a percent sign. You can refer to the Chicago Manual of Style to help you understand that a number and a percent combination are always left unhyphenated (whether they’re a noun or adjective).
Sometimes, we would hyphenate two words when they are used as an adjective before another noun. However, this does not apply when using a number and percentage form in any case.
- Correct: I want to give you five percent more, but I don’t think I can fit it in.
- Incorrect: This is a ten-percent bonus. I hope you’re okay with it.
- Correct: It’s only going to be a sixteen percent difference. I think that’s all we can manage right now.
- Incorrect: When are you going to give me a hundred-percent? I feel like you’re not even trying.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.