How to Calculate Percentages

Perhaps during the lockdown, you were told you are going to be paid a certain percentage of your salary. Before we can learn to calculate a percentage, we need to first understand exactly what the term percentage means and how to calculate percentages.

To calculate percentage: Convert the given number to decimal, then multiply it by 100 to get the percentage.

The word percentage is derived from the word percent. If you split the word up into its two rood words, we see “per” and “cent”. The word ‘Cent’ is an old European word with French, Latin and Italian origins meaning hundred. To directly translate this to ‘per hundred’. If you have 78 percent, you literally have 78 per hundred. If it rained 15 times in the last 100 days, it rained 15(%) percent of the time.

Its something that we learnt in school, but it is a task that can easily slip from our mind. To calculate percentages is a very important life skill. There are several online percentage calculators that can help you calculate your needed percentage. However, there may be a time, as unlikely as it is, where you need to be able to calculate your own percentage without any digital assistance. It works out quicker if you know what you are doing too.

In arithmetic and numbers today, numbers are generally given to you in 2 different formats, namely: Decimal & Fraction.

Decimals – How to calculate percentages

Decimal formats are easier to calculate into percentage. Converting a decimal to a percentage is simple: Multiply It by 100. To convert 0.78 to a percent, simply multiply 0.78 by 100.

0.78 x 100 = 78

Giving you your answer of 78%

The word Percent is often abbreviated with the % symbol. Presenting your answer as 87% or 87 percent is acceptable.


If you are given a fraction, converting it into a decimal is necessary. Thus, if I am given a fraction of 23/100, I first need to divide the top number with the bottom number.

Example 1

23 ÷ 100 = 0.23

Then, follow the steps above for converting a decimal to a percent.

0.23 x 100 = 23% or 23 percent.

The task can seem quite daunting when you need to calculate the percentage of a number that does not fit neatly into 100.

Most of the time you are given a percentage of a given number. For example, you may need to work out that 25 percent of your salary will go to taxes and you need to find out exactly how much money that is.

To calculate that the percentage of a specific number, you first need to convert it to decimal.

This process is pretty much the reverse of what we did earlier. You need to divide your percentage by 100. So that means 25% would be divided by 100.

25% ÷ 100 = 0.25%

Once you have the decimal version of your percentage, simply multiply it to the given number. In this case it would be your salary.

If your salary is R10000.00 then you would multiply it with 0.25

10000 x 0.25 = R2500.00

Example 2

Let us try another example.

You want to save 30% of your salary for the next 6 months to go on a nice holiday. How much money would I be putting away every month if I earned R12000.00 per month

Let us start by converting our percentage (%) into a decimal.

30(%) ÷ 100 = 0.30

Now that we have our decimal, we need to multiply it to our salary.

R12000.00 x 0.30 = R3600.00

That means you would need to save R3600.00 each month for your holiday.

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