Percentage Calculator

Use this versatile percentage calculator to easily calculate the percentage difference between two numbers, to calculate percent change (percentage increase, percentage decrease), to find out what % is a given number from any other given number, as well as how much is x percent of y.

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What is a percentage?

Before explaining how to use percentage calculator to calculate percent change, percent difference or percentage of one number from another, it is useful to examine the basics of the concept of percentages.

A percentage is a dimensionless number, represented as a fraction of 100, e.g. 50 out of 100 can be written as 50%, and 1 out of 10 can be written as 10%. A percentage is by definition a ratio. The sign for percent is "%", but the abbreviation "pct" is sometimes used in its place, while in older literature and documents one can encounter "per cent", where "cent" is an abbreviation of the Latin "centum" which literally means "one hundred", so the phrase means "per one hundred" - the literal definition of percentage.

Percentages have a wide array of application in many disciplines and everyday usage which is why having a percentage calculator can be very handy. They are common in statistics, social sciences, economics, finance, accounting. In everyday usage we often encounter percent off coupons. Promotions, sales, and various discounts are often expressed as percentage from a previous reference price of an item or service. Percentage calculations can be used when measuring productivity or load of a person or machine, e.g. "he is working at 100%" (at maximum capacity).

Percentage increase or decrease are used to describe the relative growth or decline of something, e.g. a population, capital, personal wealth, etc. Differences between any two objects can be expressed as ratios or as percentage difference. The measurement error of a tool or process can be described in terms of percent error and can easily be computed using a percentage calculator.

How to calculate percent change?

This is what most people mean when they want to know "how to calculate percentage", but for other possible percentage calculations see below. Percent change calculators are commonly employed when comparing quantities, business metrics, or other measurements from two time periods. A percentage change calculation is also useful when comparing a new state of things to an old state of things, e.g. using the census to compare the number of people living in villages in a given municipality before versus after industrialization. Our percentage calculator is of great assistance for calculating percent increase / decrease, but you can also calculate percentage change on your own.

For example, say you are reviewing the performance of your business on a monthly basis and you see that the past month you had 80 customers while the month before you were able to acquire only 64. To find out the growth rate of your business you need to calculate percent change using the equation below.

Percent Change Formula

Percent change = new / old * 100 - 100

where new is the newer quantity or measure, and old is the older quantity or measure. In the above example this would be 80 / 64 * 100 - 100 = 1.25 * 100 - 100 = 125 - 100 = 25%. Your monthly percentage change (percent growth, percent increase) was thus 25 percent as you can verify by using the percentage change calculator.

In another situation, you might be examining a proposition to increase your salary from $100,000 a year to $120,000 a year to keep you on the payroll and want to know what percent is the new salary versus your old one. If you forgo using a percent calculator and do it manually, start by dividing 120,000 by 100,000 to get 1.2. Then multiply by 100 to get 120. Finally subtract 100 which leaves 20%. Therefore, you were offered a 20% increase of your salary and as the new salary is 120% of your current salary.

Similarly, you can use the percentage calculator to calculate change in speed of different modes of transportation. If you compare a car or bus moving at 60 miles per hour to a high-speed train moving at 120 miles per hour, you can obtain the percentage change to be 100% meaning that the railway is twice as fast as the vehicle.

How to calculate X is what percent of Y?

Let's say you are a car salesman and you have a car originally priced at $50,000, but you have done some calculation and determine that you can take $5,000 off the price of the car and still be ahead after the sale. How can you determine what percentage is $5,000 from $50,000? Obviously, just plugging in the numbers in the percent calculator above is the fastest way, but to do the math manually use the following formula:

X is What Percent of Y Formula

x is x / y * 100 % of y

so in this case that would be 5,000 / 50,000 * 100 = 0.1 * 100 = 10%. If you were to offer a $5,000 discount on a $50,000 car, that would be a 10% discount.

In another example you might want to calculate what percentage of your total yearly income you have to pay in taxes. If your yearly income is $80,000 and you have calculated that your total tax amount is $36,000, then your tax rate is 36,000 / 80,000 / 100 = 0.45 * 100 = 45%, since $36,000 is 45 percent of $80,000. You can do all these calculations easily using our online percentage calculator.

How to calculate X percent of Y?

Let's say you are told you are eligible to get a 20% discount on an item costing $500. How can you determine what is the discount you would get at this percentage? The formula to use is:

X Percent of Y Formula

x% of y is y * (x / 100)

In the example above that would be calculated as 500 * (20 / 100) = 500 * 0.2 = 100. If you were to purchase the $500 item with $20 off, you would be getting a discount of $100.

Another example of using a percent calculator would be if you wonder how many minutes are 75% of a 60-minute video. The answer is 60 * (75 / 100) = 45 minutes as you can verify with the calculator.

How to calculate percent difference?

The percentage difference of two numbers (quantities) a and b is the relative difference, expressed as a percent. It should be calculated using the formula:

Percentage Difference Formula

Percent Difference = |a - b| / ((a + b) / 2) * 100 percent

For example, if one item costs $5 and another costs $6 the percent difference between them is: |5 - 6| / ((5 + 6) / 2) * 100 = 1 / (11 / 2) * 100 = 1 / 5.5 * 100 = 18.18%. Please, note that this doesn't mean that 5 is 18.18% smaller than 6, or that 6 is 18.18% larger than 5. The correct percentages if you are asking the question of "what percent is a from b" would be 16.66% and 20%, respectively, as explained above.

Similarly, a percentage difference calculator might be useful if computing the difference in elevation of two mountains. If one is 6,000 feet high and the other 3,000 feet, the absolute difference is 2000 ft while the percent difference is 40%.

Percentage difference is useful in few situations, so it should be used with care. For example, one should not use a percentage difference calculator when comparing time periods, as the first metric is another state of the second metric, so percent change is the appropriate calculation. Similarly, calculating a price change should not be done using percentage difference.

Percent Points vs Relative Percentages

You might have noted that often when newspapers are talking about USA elections for members of parliament, premier, or president of a town, municipality, or a whole country, there would be polls tracking the favorability of each candidate. Differences in sentiment and changes in said polling measures will often be communicated in percent points instead of percentages. A percent point is like absolute difference, but expressed in percentages.

Note that such calculations only apply when comparing difference in percentage measures - something not supported by our percentage calculator. For example, the percent in favor of candidate A might be 40% before a certain political event and only 35% after. The percent change is simply 40% minus 35% which equals 5 p.p. (but is a percentage change of 12.5 percent).

Compounding and averaging percentages

While these are not problems directly relevant to using a percentage calculator, they constitute a mistake often committed even by experienced directors or data-analysts.

Namely, percentages should not be added up (compounded) or averaged like simple numbers, as this will result in an incorrect end result. Compounding is often encountered in finance, e.g. when calculating compound interest or multi-year return of a financial portfolio. Averaging percentages is often encountered in business calculations, for example to determine the average growth of a company, but also in finance and banking where average growth of an asset or asset portfolio may be calculated.

Here is an example of adding percentages: say you have a $100,000 bank deposit at a 2% interest rate, applied yearly at the end of the year. If you keep it for 5 years, you might think that the way to calculate your deposit's value at the end of the 5-year period is to simply multiply 2% x 5 = 10% (or, equivalently, 2% + 2% + 2% + 2% + 2% = 10%), add 100% and then use our percentage calculator to calculate 110% of $100,000. By this calculation you would expect to have $110,000 at the end of the period (10% of 100,000 is $10,000). However, you will have $110,408, since at the end of each year you will get your interest but then in each of the following years you will accrue interest over the interest from the first year. And so on for the second, third...

To average percentage growth a year, it would be incorrect to just sum up the growth % in each year and then divide by the number years. Let us say you are the founder of an organization which has an asset that grew 5% the first year, 6% the second year, 10% the third year, and then lost 10% the fourth year. The growth of the principal value is not 5% + 6% + 10% - 10% = 11%, but it is instead the geometric mean: 2.4549% times the number of years = 2.4549 x 4 = 9.82%. Again, this is not something you can solve for using the above percentage calculator.

The above peculiarities are also the reason why if you lose 25% of some asset, you need to grow it 33.33% to recoup the loss. A quick calculation that you can also do using our percent calculator, shows that $10,000 * 25% = $7,500, while $10,000 of $7,500 = 133.33% (or $10,000 - $7,500 = $2,500 to return to zero, and $2.500 is 33.33% of $7,500).

Many uses for a percentage calculator

As the numerous examples above demonstrate, a percentage calculator can be useful in so many practical scenarios. Changes in electoral sentiment in democratic processes, industrial production, stocks of material goods in warehouses, albums sold by an artist / musician, publications in a scientific journal, personnel changes in an organization, as well as natural things such as the amount of flora or fauna in given island, etc. can be computed using such a tool. Another application of percentage calculations is for differences in achievements such as records at Olympic games and other tournaments and championships.

A percentage calculator can be used to measure the relative difference in physical quantities such as speed, density, luminosity, reflectivity, strength, tensile strength, and so on. However, a percent calculator is most often used for financial assets and benchmarks and for everyday things such as discounts, commissions, and tipping at a restaurant.

Regardless of area of application we would appreciate any feedback on our percent calculator!

Cite this calculator & page

If you'd like to cite this online calculator resource and information as provided on the page, you can use the following citation:
Georgiev G.Z., "Percentage Calculator", [online] Available at: https://www.gigacalculator.com/calculators/percentage-calculator.php URL [Accessed Date: 05 Apr, 2020].