What Is Percent?

By Susan Rickey
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Percent is a ratio. The word, taken from Latin, literally means "per hundred." Five percent means five out of 100. A percent is easily recognizable by the percent sign following the number. To read a percent read the number and then say percent -- 45% is read forty-five percent.

Percents as Fractions or Decimals

The percent sign is thought of as "out of 100." To turn the percent into a fraction, remove the percent sign, use the percent number as the numerator and add the denominator of 100. In the example of 45%, the fraction representing the same number is 45/100. To change the percent into a decimal, remove the percent sign. Since the ratio is out of 100, the percent is changed to a decimal by placing a decimal point and placing the number in the hundredths place. Forty-five percent is equivalent to 0.45.

How to Calculate Percentage

To calculate percentage, change the percent to a decimal. Multiply the decimal by the number you want to find the percent of. For example, to find 52% of 38, multiply 0.52 x 38. Nineteen and seventy-six hundredths, 19.76, is 52% of 38.

About the Author

Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.