It’s no secret that American publishing houses use the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook to guide their writing and editing. No matter if you’re a student, journalist, editor, marketer or freelancer – following AP style percentage format rules is essential when it comes to producing consistent and professional content. But for those who may not be familiar with this mysterious and oftentimes confusing element of AP style guide for percentages, don’t worry! In today’s blog post we’ll look at some key things to remember when it comes to the dos and don’ts of formatting percentages in your text so you can take on any written task like a pro.

Let’s dig in and grasp the crucial components of AP style percent formatting in business writing!

Overview of Percent Formatting In AP Style

AP style is used to format percentages in the following way: All-numeric with the percentage sign, e.g.: 12%. This does not include fractions, which are formatted with either a hyphen and fraction like 3-4 or as a decimal point such as .75.
It’s important to note that AP style for percentages differs from other styles such as Chicago or MLA, which require all numbers from zero to nine to be spelled out and 10 and above referred to in numerals only.

When you are referring to percentages in the text of a document, AP style requires that they always be formatted with numerals followed by the percentage sign; never spell out “percents” or use any other variations. For example, the correct formatting for 25 percent would be “25%”.

Basic Guidelines For Percent Formatting

Here are some fundamental rules of AP Stylebook Content Formatting:

Consider Decimal Places:

The AP stylebook considers the use of decimal places when formatting percentages. When including any type of percentage in your document, always be sure to provide the correct number of significant digits. For example, if you have a value such as 12.3%, it should never be rounded up or down to 12%.

Multiply By 100:

If the value you are using is a decimal number, multiplying it by 100 will give you the correct percentage format. For example, if you have a number such as 0.13, simply multiply it by 100 and write it out as 13%.

Use Of Word Percent:

When writing about percentages in the text of your document, never spell out “percent” or “percents”, instead use the symbol %. For example, 25% not 25 percent.

Leading Zeros:

Leading zeros are not necessary when formatting percentages in an AP style document. For example, the correct way to write 3% is simply 3%, not 0.03%.

Use Formatting Tools:

If you’re ever in doubt about how to format a percentage correctly, it’s best to use formatting tools such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs that provide automatic formatting. This will help ensure accuracy and consistency throughout your document.

Use Hyphenation:

We know that fractions are formatted differently than percentages, and the AP stylebook provides guidance on how to correctly hyphenate them. Fractions should always be written with a hyphen between the numerator and denominator, such as 3-4.

Avoid Ambiguity:

Since there are multiple ways to express numbers depending on context, it’s important to avoid ambiguity in your text when writing with AP style. For example, if you are referring to the number of customers who participated in a survey, make sure to use precise language such as “43 out of 100 customers” instead of being vague and saying “nearly half”.

Maintain Consistency:

Maintain uniformity in your document, spreadsheet, or application’s formatting. Unless otherwise required by special regulations, use the same number of decimal places and position of the % symbol throughout.

These guidelines are just a few of the things to remember when formatting percentages in AP style for professional and consistent business writing. Always be sure to double check your sources and review any relevant style guides before submitting your final product – you don’t want to run into any formatting issues that could cost you time or money down the road.

How To Format Percentages in Ap Style in Different Formats?

Certainly! Let’s examine each subject in detail and discuss how to format text, headings, and titles in percentages, tables, and graphics.

Percentage Formatting in Text

The AP Stylebook provides the following instructions for formatting percentages in the text:

Use numerals for percentages:

Use numerical figures rather than spelled-out phrases for expressing percentages. Instead of writing, “The sales increased by twenty-five percent,” write, “The sales increased by 25%.

Use the % symbol:

There should be no gap between the numerical value and the % symbol. For instance, use “25%” rather than “25 %.”

Avoid Using Decimals:

AP Style suggests avoiding decimal places for percentages unless precise accuracy is necessary. For instance, use “25%” rather than “25.00%.”

Use of Percent Formatting in Headlines and Titles

The AP Style allows for some latitude in formatting percentages in headlines and titles. The general rules are as follows:

Use Numerical Figures:

Use numerical figures instead of spelled-out words in headlines and titles, just as you would in regular text when expressing percentages.

Using the % symbol:

No gap should exist between the % symbol and the numerical value.

Focus on Capitalization and Emphasis:

Capitalization and emphasis are flexible according to the tone and style of the headline or title in AP Style. However, it’s crucial to ensure readability and clarity. For example: “50% Off on Everything Summer Sale!” Alternatively, “Save 50% on All Summer Sale Items!”

AP Style Percent Formatting in Tables and Graphics

For formatting percentages in tables and graphics, refer to AP Style. The most popular suggestions are as follows:

Decimal Places:

Unless precise precision is necessary, AP Style suggests using one decimal place for percentages in tables and visuals. For instance, use “25.5%” rather than “25%” or “25.50%”.

Maintain Consistency in Tables:

To improve readability and simple comparison, maintain consistent decimal place formatting within a column or data set.

Data Labels in Graphics:

The same rules for decimal places and symbol usage apply to data labels in graphs and charts as in tables.

While AP Style offers basic standards, it’s crucial to remember that certain newspapers or organizations have their adaptations or departures from these norms. To ensure conformity to your organization’s or publication’s chosen formatting for percentages, always refer to the specific style guide or rules published by that organization or magazine.

Remember to adhere to the provided AP Style percent formatting guide and keep the content’s general readability and clarity in mind.
Common Mistakes and Pitfalls to Avoid while Using AP Style Percent Formatting

Following are some frequent mistakes and pitfalls to avoid while employing Percent formatting in AP Style:

Using “Percent” Instead of The Percent Sign

The % symbol is suggested by AP Style instead of writing the word “percent” in total. However, the percentage indicator should be used with digits in official text.

Using Fractions Instead of Decimal Points

Decimal points are preferred over fractions for representing percentages and percent values in numbers.

Inconsistent Use of Numerals and Words

The AP Style suggests spelling out numbers one through nine and using numerals for numbers 10 and above. It’s crucial to use words and numbers consistently throughout the text.

Using The Incorrect Verb Agreement

The verb agreement when employing percentages relies on whether the word that comes after “of” is single or plural. The examples include “60% was a failing grade” and “70% of the membership was there.”

By avoiding these common mistakes, writers can ensure that their work is correctly structured and complies with AP Style requirements.

Tips and Tricks for AP Style Percent Formatting

Certainly! Here are some more AP Style percent formatting hints and tips:

Spelling out “percent” in Text

In general, AP Style recommends using the symbol (%) rather than writing out “percent” in text. There are a few instances, such as at the start of a statement or in formal writing, where spelling it out is preferred. For example, “Percentages can be calculated using a simple formula.”

Avoid using the term “percent” when Using Numbers

Generally, using the symbol (%) in place of the word “percent” when using numbers is preferable. For example, use “25%” rather than “25 percent.”

Use numerical for small percentages

Small percentages should be expressed in numbers; AP Style recommends doing so for percentages under 10. For example, use “2%” rather than “two percent” or “two%.”

Put hyphens after compound adjectives

Put a hyphen after a compound adjective before a noun. As an illustration, type “a 10% increase” or “a 5-point drop.”

Consistent decimal places when comparing percentages

For consistency, use the same number of decimal places when comparing percentages inside a phrase or paragraph. “The first group had a 25.5% increase, while the second group experienced a 12.3% decrease.”

For headlines, round off to whole numbers

It is usual practice to round percentages to whole figures in headlines and titles for clarity and effect. To illustrate, use “Sales Soar with 50% Surge” rather than “Sales Soar with a 49.8% Surge.”

Follow specific style guide preferences

The AP Style guide for percentages offers basic rules, although individual publications or organizations may have preferences or variances. For restrictions on percent formatting, always consult your company’s individual style manual or standards.

Always refer to the most recent AP Stylebook percent formatting for any modifications or detailed instructions on percent formatting. Professional and consistent writing practices require consistency and adherence to the specified style guide.


In conclusion, understanding AP Style percent formatting is crucial for consistency and clarity in your work. You can format percentages in text, headlines, titles, tables, and graphics efficiently according to the rules provided in this article. As per AP Style guidelines, remember to utilize digits, the% sign, and the proper decimal places. Be mindful of any preferences or variations your organization or publication may have established. With the help of these hints and recommendations, you’ll be well-equipped to confidently include AP Style percent formatting into your writing and guarantee that the quality of the material meets industry standards.


1. In AP Style, which should be used: “percent” or the % symbol?

In most instances, AP Style prefers utilizing the percent sign (%) in text and headlines rather than to spell out “percent”. There are, however, some instances where it is better to spell it out, such as at the start of a phrase or in official writing.

2. How many decimal places in AP Style should be used for percentages?

AP Style typically suggests using one decimal place for percentages in tables and illustrations unless precise accuracy is necessary. Decimal places are often optional in ordinary text unless relevant to the context.

3. In headlines and titles, should the term “percent” be capitalized?

The emphasis and capitalization in headlines and titles can be varied according to style. The chosen tone and style must be considered. However, maintain consistency in capitalization throughout the headline or title to guarantee clarity and readability.

4. Can headlines contain rounded percentages?

For clarity and emphasis, it is common to round off percentages to whole numbers in headlines or titles. This technique aids in the creation of concise and captivating headlines.

5. Is there an AP Style rule that prohibits using numbers for percentages?

AP Style usually likes to represent percentages with numbers. However, spelling out percentages below 10 is often permissible, especially in ordinary language.