3 rules for correct percentages

DIN 5008: 3 rules for correct percentages

Not all spellings that you see on invoices and cost estimates are correct. These three rules of DIN 5008 will help you to confidently handle percentages:

You can, but don’t have to, use the percent sign

Whether you spell out the word “percent” or prefer to use the percent sign (%) is a matter of taste. But ensure consistency. The word “percent” should be spelled out when used in body text. Representing it as a character (%) is useful in a spreadsheet.

DIN 5008: There is a space before the percent sign

If you use the percent sign (%), there is a space before and after it. An exception is the spelling of the addition “-percent”: number, character and the ending are written together.


The difference between two percentages is called “percentage points”

You use the word “percentage points” when it comes to changing a percentage. Don’t use the term “percent” in this context, otherwise you will automatically make a calculation error.

Example “percentage points” according to DIN 5008:

“Party XY wants to increase VAT by 5 percentage points.”
“Five percent” would be wrong here!

: If VAT increases by five percent from 19 percent, this would mean that it would increase by 0.95 percentage points (0.19 x 0.05 = 0.0095), i.e. to 19.95 percent. That would be significantly less than the increase to 24 percent planned in the example!

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