Kiss those Math Headaches GOODBYE!


My last post showed how you convert decimals to percents.

Now I’ll dare to do the obvious with a post on how to convert percents to decimals.

Since converting percents to decimals is the opposite of converting decimals to percents, it makes sense — does it not? — that we’d use the opposite procedure. And that is the case.

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Not only that, but we do the opposite procedure in the opposite order, too. How’s that for going totally opposite?

Since the final step in converting decimals to percents is tacking on a percent symbol (%), the very first step in converting percents to decimals is taking off that symbol.

And since the first step in converting decimals to percents is nudging the decimal point two places to the right, the last step in converting percents to decimals is pushing the decimal point two places to the left.

Let’s take a look at the process with this example.

Problem:  convert 73.2% to a decimal.

Step 1:  Take off the percent symbol. 73.2% changes to just 73.2

Step 2:  Move the decimal point two places to the left. 73.2 changes to .732 That’s all there is to it. This tells us that 73.2% is the same as .732, or 7 hundred thirty-two thousandths.

If you don’t recall the steps that you’re turning around, here’s a quick way to remember the process of converting percents to decimals. As I said in my last post, we can make use of alphabetical order, setting up the words for decimal and percent, in order, like this:

D-Decimal                              P-Percent

Then we draw an arrow showing that we’re converting from percent form to decimal form. The arrow shows the direction of the conversion: percent to decimal.

D-Decimal    <————–    P-Percent

This arrow points to the left, and that tells us that we move the decimal point to the left when we convert a percent to a decimal.

Let’s look at the process again, this time focusing now on how we use the arrow’s direction to help us.

Problem:  Convert  4.782% to a decimal.

Step 1:  Rip off the percent symbol. 4.782% changes to 4.782

Step 2:  Give the decimal point two shoves in the arrow’s direction. Since a percent to decimal conversion makes the arrow point left, we shove the decimal point two spaces to the left.  4.782 changes to .04782

This tells us that .04782 is the same as 4.782%

Note: if there are no digits showing to the left, we’re free to add 0s on the left side of the leftmost digit to create a place where the decimal point lands, after being shoved to the left.

In the last example, we had to tack a 0 on the left of 4.782 — making it 04.782, to get a digit (0) to the left of which we placed the final decimal point. Be confident that you can write as many 0 digits as you need to the left of a number’s leftmost digit. For example, it is just fine (though admittedly strange) to write 4.3 as 0004.3. You’d do this weird maneuver if you need that many zeros to the left of the 4. This occurs in converting numbers to scientific notation, for example.

So, now that you know the process, try your hand at converting the following percents to decimals: (Answers at the bottom of this post.)

a)  38%                                                                                                                           b)  19.3%                                                                                                                         c)   4.2%                                                                                                                         d)  175%                                                                                                                         e)  398.6%
f)  2,400%

Answers to the problems in the last post, converting decimals to percents:

a)  8590%                                                                                                                     b)  416.2%                                                                                                                     c)  20873.5%
d)  4.7%
e)  207,465%
f)  28.3%
g)  .569%

Answers to problems in this post:

a)  38%        =  .38
b)  19.3%     =  .193
c)   4.2%      =  .042
d)  175%      =  1.75
e)  398.6%   =  3.986
f)  2,400%    =  24.0, or just 24

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