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Over the years, one word --- percent --- triggers much confusion, and continues to do so, notes Grumpy Editor.

Is it percent, % or per cent?

It causes copy editors to grumble.

The Associated Press, in updating its stylebook, is allowing use of % with figures such as income rose by 14% rather than 14 percent.

That makes headline writers happy.

As Merrill Perlman at Columbia Journalism Review points out, "Thus continues the evolution of  ‘percent.’ In the early part of the 20th century, a common rendering was ‘per cent,’ two words with a period after the “cent,” possibly because it was abbreviating the Italian ‘per cento’.”

Perlman adds, “The first formal AP stylebook, in 1953, called for “per cent,” and that stuck at least through the 1970 stylebook. By 1977, though, it had come together as ‘percent.’ That’s common in the United States, though British English leans towards ‘per cent’.”

However, some confusion continues.

Perlman mentions The Chicago Manual of Style says, “In nontechnical contexts, the word percent is generally used; in scientific and statistical copy, the symbol % is more common.”

One wonders what % of readers care about the change.




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FREE ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR WRITERS. The spring 2019 issue of Writers Tricks of the Trade, a free magazine, is unveiled online today. Produced by Las Vegas-based Morgan St. James, author of 16 books, the 40-page issue provides information and news of interest to freelance writers. View it at

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B OF A RAISES MINIMUM WAGE.  Bank of America is raising its minimum wage starting pay to $17 an hour effective May 1, on the way to reaching $20 an hour in 2021.

NETFLIX PLANS TO ADD FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD THEATER.   Netflix is in talks to buy the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The Egyptian’s price tag is said to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

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TOP BABY NAMES OF YEAR.  Nameberry, a baby-naming site, tallies the top baby names making the rounds this year.



  1. Posie
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  6. Cora
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  10. Charlotte


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  10. Felix


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