Talk:Percent sign

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Wrong evolution symbols[edit]

Something is wrong here. The evolution as shown in this article clearly differs from the evolution shown in the only reference provided for it [1]. Also, It must be more references, as the site provided can be wrong. Someone fix that. --SSpecter 1 november 2006

I though the evolution came from "pars per cent"--p/c (%)--and its parallel "pars per mill"--p/m (‰)? The article seems to hint at that but the symbols don't seem to agree with "per" being abbreviated as "/". CJLippert 17:08, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
‘/’ as an abbreviation has been held as a symbol for per, at least in the 19th and 20th centuries. It comes from rates, think physics. Will It Work (talk) 17:34, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, those graphics clearly came from somewhere, as the history of many such things is a matter of some debate, but the reference provided for it gives a completely different story. Someone should at least change the placement of that footnote indicator, maybe list it as a competing theory separately and add a citation needed tag to what's already there unless they can find the real source for it. -- (talk) 22:38, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

I learned a long time ago that the sign came from the modification of the word cto (cento). I found an article that attributes this to a French author named Delaporte in 1685 from the book 'Le Guide des Negotien' (a merchant's guide)

[2] (in Spanish) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Unreliable refs[edit]

    I've removed to here the refs from the Percent sign#Evolution section, respectively

<ref>Weaver, Douglas. "The History of Mathematical Symbols". Retrieved 2006-07-18. </ref>


<ref>"U+0025 PERCENT SIGN". </ref>

both of which i find unreliable.

  1. The longer work is by two math teachers, presumably in a gov't-run high school, in a presumably small suburb of Australia's national capital. They may have gotten a lot right FAIK, but the work appears, truncated, on a nearby university's Web site, and seems to be mirrored by a couple dozen indiscriminate sites that are probably just fetching the content from UniSA when it's requested, and don't care enuf about the quality to have noticed that they are serving it truncated (in mid-f'g-sentence) as well. Some of the small handful of refs they cite should be consulted, bcz they look more solid, but that's a job o'work since they gave no page citations.
  2. The shorter is perfunctory toward the subject, probably bcz its really part of a manual of Unicode or something, and someone said, i guess, "folks won't find it so deadly dull to consult if there's some local color in each pagelet!" -- not a sign of scholarly care. Nor is the lack of refs, nor use of the word "oder" (where "or" would have made sense of the sentence) in one of the first sentence, 2nd 'graph, History section. Oder is German for "or", and German capitalizes the nouns, but not the adjectives, for German/y and Ital/y/ian, so it's probably a haphazard translation from German. Further evidence of unconcern about proofreading is "actaually", whose odd string of vowels so offends the native eye as to nearly jump off the page and grab a competent proofreader by the throat.

IMO, both of these should be considered crap resources until shown otherwise. If we can't do better, commenting on the softball name "per cent" and ignoring the mysterious graphical transformations may be best. (Even tho i speculate that the very well established 20th-century form that looks kind of like O7O has its horizontal bar only bcz it's supposed to imitate a cursive connection between the upper o and the slash, i'm not willing that we present an evolution scenario that fails to mention, let alone account for, such a striking departure from the stages it deems worthy of mention. -- Oh, BTW, "the humorous double-oh-seven" as a name for % is impenetrably cryptic if you don't remember that version of %; we need to find such a graphic if we can't find a font that includes it; Weaver shows (but fails to acknowledge or account for the form of) a hand-drawn example, at the left edge of his % section's first graph.
    BTW, if we can't find an agreed-upon account that covers the essentials, throwing in "another reference" with a "similar account" is not verification, it's OR. The insinuation is "You're a smart kid, you can polish down the bumps where the pieces don't quite fit together", and that is WP:SYNTH, stacking the deck in the order that makes it point toward your own PoV. No way.
--Jerzyt 09:52, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

The only two reliable references for mathematical notations that I am aware of are
Florian Cajori, A History of Mathematical Notations (2 volumes), The Open Court Publishing Co. 1928-29.


D.E. Smith, History of Mathematics, Vol II, Dover, 1958 (reprint of 1925 text)

Everything else that I have seen seems to be based on these two references. For instance there is an NCTM publication called Historical Topics for the Mathematics Classroom (1989) which references just these two sources in it's 1 page treatment of the percentage sign (pp.146-7). The Weaver piece just takes stuff from these three sources - I can verify this in terms of the Smith and NCTM sources, but I don't have a copy of Cajori readily at hand. I think it is safe to assume that what is in NCTM that is not in Smith is coming from Cajori. In any event, I think that the Weaver piece can be considered reliable. Smith's account (pg.250) says that early versions of % are found in 15th century manuscripts on commercial arithmetic where it appears as "per ċ" or "p ċ" (where the dot above the c is supposed to be a small circle) an abbreviation for "per cento". Smith references his own book Rara Arithmetica (1908) with 3 facsimiles (this is available on-line) showing these examples. He does not claim that this is the first occurance. Cajori (or at least NCTM) has the 1425 symbol which appears in Weaver. Based on this, I think that the first two figures in this article are BOGUS. It looks like someone's overactive imagination attempting to come up with an explanation of the symbol. As to the 007 version of the symbol – I grew up with that form of the symbol, but a couple of years ago I was attempting to find that version somewhere on-line and I failed to locate it. I think it died with the electric typewriter. Bill Cherowitzo (talk) 04:57, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

I've tracked down the Cajori book and he just lifts (that is, quotes) the description given in Smith's Rara Arithmetica. So it appears that everything reliable comes from this work of Smith. Thus, I have removed the Bogus images and replaced them with copies of what is printed in Rara Arithmetica and have made all the references to that book. Bill Cherowitzo (talk) 18:09, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Reverse percent sign[edit]

Isn't there a unicode symbol corresponding to a mirrored % (with a \ rather than a / between the two circles)? I can't find it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:14, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

I've never seen it. What does it mean? — Gwalla | Talk 23:44, 14 May 2008 (UTC)


> instead of fractions, as in "3.5 percent of the gain" and not "3 ½ percent of the gain." It is also widely accepted to use the percent symbol (%) in tabular and graphic material.

Isn't it self-referencing how it says that Wikipedia's manual of style says there should be no space between the number and the sign?-- (talk) 21:24, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Glyph variations[edit]

The article says In modern times, a solidus is used instead of the horizontal fraction bar. However this doesn't seem to be universal.

I've seen quite often fonts that connect the top “o” with the top of the bar with a little downwards-curved line, for example Century Schoolbook L and cmr10 (Computer Modern, used by TeX, and thus present in lots of scientific texts). This should be probably mentioned (I imagine it's a leftover of the per cento abreviation).

There are other variations. Analecta has a right-pointing serif on top of the bar. Many constant-width fonts, including Courier New, Free Mono and Monospace use an almost-horizontal bar (though still slightly sloped). Mallige has the bar even more sloped (almost vertical) than the forward dash, which is itself more sloped than a solidus. Mathematica1 has one that's also closer to vertical than a solidus (though less so than the slash).

bogdanb (talk) 13:44, 19 January 2010 (UTC)


According to "Svenska språknämnden" ("The Swedish language council") and its book "Svenska skrivregler" ("Swedish writing rules") it is preferred to use a space before the percent sign when writing Swedish. Could this information be added to the article as well? Thanks! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:32, 22 February 2010 (UTC)


I've reverted to change from "The Guardian's and some American style guides" back to "English style guides" because writing the number and percent sign without any space between is more or less universal practice in every English style guide. Writing it the other way is inaccurate because it implies that English usually uses a space, and that some style guides stipulate no space as a deviation from usual English practice. Doremo (talk) 08:19, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

I think MOS:PERCENT says the same. Reading the MOS bullets carefully, the second bullet (relevant here) says: "in those places, use the % sign not the words". It does not say that outside of the listed places (e.g., in non-technical article body text) one should use a spaced %-sign. Rather, it concludes in the body one can use the words not the symbol. In short: our MOS says "the %-sign is used unspaced always". -DePiep (talk) 09:51, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
MOS does say that % should not have a space, but other units should. I don't think I have even seen this practice in English, despite this article stating that this is the general practice, spaces are never used. I don't know why you don't use spaces between the value and the unit in English, but I suspect it is because it is the only way to distinguishing, in English, when a value followed a unit is a measurement and when value has nothing to do with the unit. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:6B0:1:1E20:225:64FF:FEC3:2B42 (talk) 10:04, 2 June 2016 (UTC)