What is meant by percent? Where did it come from? What is its usage in our lives? These are the questions that may arise in your mind when you come across the word percent. The word comes from Latin and Greek. History speaks that long before the existence of the decimal system, the Ancient Romans used to compute in fractions which were usually in the forms of multiples of 1/100. Augustus was the man who first levied tax in the form of 1/100 on sold goods in an auction. These fractional computations were similar to percentage computing. With the introduction of denominations of money during the middle ages in the late fifteenth century, people became largely familiar with this method and aware of how to figure out percentages. By the seventeenth century, moneylenders were using percentages as a standard to quote rates of interests in hundredths.

In modern days, we commonly compare values, quantify changes and calculate amounts to represent an increase or decrease because we know how to figure out percentages.

Let’s figure it out. We use the term percent, percentage or the symbol % frequently in our everyday life, whether talking about the increase in inflation or writing a report of sales with 25% discounts. We dine in a restaurant and they happily add 10% service charge to our bill. Newspapers are publishing reports on unemployment ratio and discussing tax rise in the shape of values in terms of percentages. Stock markets are announcing a decrease in oil prices by 15%. It means it is a simplified way to convey size, scale or value.

Percentage also stands for parts of hundred or parts out of hundred. It is also same as a fraction with a denominator of hundred. Hence, 25% means 25 parts out of hundred and is same as the fraction 25/100. We also express parts out of hundred by using decimal, it means percentage can also be expressed in this way, for example, 25% is the same as 0.25 or 25/100.

As we already have explained the term ‘per cent’ stands for one out of 100. In mathematics, percentages are employed to derive the parts of a whole, and the whole always being hundred. The symbol, ‘%’ is commonly used to mention that the particular number is a percentage. Having the grasp of percentage finding skills will potentially save your time, enhance your knowledge about monetary dealings and can make you more employable.

When it comes to how to figure out percentages and determine the results you may find lots of reasons to do it. Let’s suppose somebody or you want to purchase a mobile phone for USD 500. He/she checked the local market and searched for the suppliers for any discount. One company offers a 20% discount on the purchase of two mobile sets. How much will be the cost of the mobile phone taking into account the offered discount?

As we already have learnt in this guide about how to figure out percentages and know that it is something like dividing the whole into hundred equal parts. The whole could be anything, your body weight, a length of time that you spend to complete a task, an amount of money that you spend on buying a laptop or mobile phone, the whole is simply the entire amount of anything or hundred percent (100%). In the above example, the whole is USD 500, which is the cost of the mobile phone prior to discount and which you are going to buy.

To know how to figure out percentages for amounts like USD 500, you first need to figure out its one part or one percent of 500. Let’s calculate it.

One percent of USD 500 is 500 / 100. It comes to 5. Therefore, 1% of USD 500 = USD 5.

Now that you have worked out 1% of the USD 500, you can multiply it with the percentage of discount that you are looking for. In this particular case, twenty percent of USD 500 will be USD 5 x 20 = USD 100. Hence, twenty percent of USD 500 will come to USD 100. The mobile phone will, therefore, cost you USD 500 – 20%, by putting the figure of worked out percentage you will get USD 500 - USD 100 = USD 400. It reveals that if you purchase two sets you will get USD 100 off the actual price of USD 500. I recommend enjoying the deal.

Another way to express parts of hundred is a decimal system through which percentages can also be mentioned. In the below example, you will learn how to figure out percentages by using decimal system.

20% is the same as 0.20 or 20/100 or 97% is the same as 0.97 or 97/100.

There are mostly three important ways in which percentages can frequently be used:

- it can be used to make statistics by illustrating various sizes or totals that are to be compared;
- it can be used to calculate the amount of transformation over a certain period of time;
- it can be used to express an amplification or reduction in size corresponding to initial value or size.

In the above lines, we have gone through and have looked at some basics of how to figure out percentages and how to combine or deduct a percentage from a whole value. Every now and then you will find it useful as well, to work out the actual percentages of a whole.

For example, let's consider that an organization uses the services of nine managers, twelve supervisors, five accountants, three human resource professionals, seven cleaning staff and four catering staff. What proportion of each type of employees does this organization provide work for?

To solve this problem we first need to find out the whole value, the whole value is the total number of employees working in that organization. We can easily find this whole value by adding together the number of different types of employees.

Nine managers + twelve supervisors + five accountants + three Human resource professionals + seven cleaning staff + four caterers: The total comes to forty members of staff. Hence, our whole value is forty.

For each category of employees we need to find out the percentage, the calculation we need will look like this:

- Employees in Category divided by the Whole (total) number of employees

9 Managers divided by 40, (9/40) = 0.225. That is an out of the ordinary number, could it be correct? Yes, of course, it is correct but there is one more step left to sum up before getting a final value. You need to convert this odd number into a percentage and for this it requires to be multiplied by 100.

Multiplying a value by 100 is the same as dividing it by a hundred except you move the numbers the other way on the scale values of place. So 0.225 will become 22.5. Therefore 22.5% of the organizations employees are the Managers.

We will do the same computation for Supervisors:

- 12 Supervisors divided by 40 = 12 / 40 = 0.3. 0.3 × 100 (to get the percentage) = 30%.
- For 5 Accountants we will divide 5 by 40 = 5 / 40 = 0.125. 0.125 × 100 (to get the percentage of accountants) = 12.5%.
- 3 Human Resource Professionals = 3 ÷ 40 = 0.075. 0.075 × 100 (to achieve the percentage of HR professionals) = 7.5%.
- 7 Cleaning staff = 7 / 40 = 0.175. 0.175 × 100 (proportion of cleaning staff) = 17.5%.
- 4 Catering staff / 40 = 0.1, 0.1 × 100 = 10% is the ratio of catering staff amongst 40 employees.

After finishing calculating your percentages or becoming aware of how to figure out percentages, it makes a good brainstorming to tally them up to make certain that it equals 100%. If this is not the case then you need to check your calculations.

In a summary, you can say that the organization consists of:

Managers: 9 out of 40 equals to 22.5%; Supervisors: 12 out of 40 equals to 30%; Accountants: 5 out of 40 equals to 12.5%; HR Professionals: 3 out of 40 equals to 7.5%; Cleaning staff: 7 out of 40 equals to 17.5%; Caterers: 4 out of 40 equals to 10%; Total employees: 40, percentage 100%.

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As you have learnt that percent is a fraction of a whole number and the whole (number) is always 100%, it can also be written as a decimal figure. To inscribe a percentage as a decimal figure, simply divide it by hundred; for example dividing 50% by 100 returns 0.5; 35% becomes 3.5; 10% becomes 0.1 and so on. You can figure out percentages by employing this knowledge. 50% of any value is the same as a half, so 50% of 40 is 20 - as twenty-five is half of 50 (50 ÷ 2). The decimal figure of 50% of any value will be 0.5. So one more way to find out 50% of 40 is to say 40 × 0.5 - that is 20, which is the half. Therefore, 25% of 50 is the same as saying 50 × 0.25, which equals to 12.50.

We enjoy salary raise at the end of the year of our successful employment in any organization. To determine how much you get at the end of the year as an increment and figuring it out in shape of percentages you need to do a little calculation as in the following example:

- Natalia is working in a company; she is drawing a salary of USD 24000. Company awarded her with an increase of 5%, how much is the amount in dollars.
- Natalia’s salary = 24000 multiplied by 5 (percent of increase) divided by 100 will give the answer as 1200, therefore Natalia is enjoying USD 24000 x 5 / 100 = USD 1200 as an annual increase in her salary.

Now that you have mastered the art of calculating percent change between two values, you must know that it is equally important to determine the correct base figure from which to calculate the percent change, that is, the appropriate initial value. This is due to the fact that the percent change from a small number to a bigger number is not the same as the percent change from the same bigger number to the same smaller number.

For example, the percentage increase from 50 to 60 = (10 / 50) x (100 / 1) = 20%. On the other hand, the percentage decrease from 60 to 50 = (10/60)x(100/1) = 16.66%.

Playing with figures is interesting, whoever studies it enjoys working with numbers and turn them in favor.

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