How to Reduce Fractions

By Brenda Sanders

A fraction is a part of a whole (such as 1/2 or 4/5). It is written with a number on the top and a number on the bottom. The top number is called a numerator and the bottom number is called a denominator. Reducing fractions is simply putting fractions in lowest terms.

How to Reduce Fractions

Find the greatest common factor (GCF) by listing the factors of the numerator (top number), then listing the factors of the denominator (bottom number). The factors of the number are the numbers that, when multiplied by a second number, equal the original number. The greatest factor that is common in both the numerator and the denominator is the GCF. This is an example of how this would look:8/12 is the fraction8 is the numerator. The factors of 8 are 1, 2, 4 and 8.12 is the denominator. The factors are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12.The GCF is 4 since it is the greatest factor that is common in both the numerator and the denominator.

Divide the numerator by the GCF.Using the same fraction in Step 1, we learned that the GCF was 4. When we divide 4 by the numerator, we get 2. The number 2 is our new numerator.

Divide the denominator by the GCF. Continuing with the same example in Step 1, we learned that the GCF was 4. When we divide 4 by the denominator, we get 3. This is our new denominator. From Step 2, we saw that the new numerator in our example was 2 and the new denominator from this step is 3. Thus, 2/3 would be the answer. The fraction is now reduced to its lowest terms.

About the Author

Brenda Sanders is an educator who has taught in many capacities for over 15 years. She recently completed her doctorate in education from George Fox University. Brenda received her MAT from Pacific University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach. She has also worked as a proofreader, editor and writer.