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Encyclopedia > Decimal point

The decimal separator is used to mark the boundary between the integer and the fractional parts of a decimal numeral.

Originally (near the end of the first millennium CE), a bar over the units digit was used. Later, a separator (a short, roughly vertical, ink-stroke) between the units and tenths position became the norm. When type-set, it was convenient to use the existing comma, stop, or point marks for this purpose.

In many countries, therefore, the comma is used to mark the decimal units position; however, in predominantly English-speaking countries, a stop (.) or point (middle dot: ) is commonly used as the decimal point symbol.

(For numeral systems other than decimal, the analogous point is known as a radix point.)

Examples of use:

  • In France, Netherlands, and much of Latin Europe: 1 234 567,89
  • In Germany, Romania and much of Europe: 1 234 567,89 or 1.234.567,89 (in handwriting you may also come across 1234567,89)
  • In Switzerland (mainly German-speaking Switzerland): 1'234'567,89
  • In the UK and USA: 1,234,567.89 or 1,234,56789; the latter is more commonly found in older, and especially handwritten, documents nowadays; many UK schools now teach the SI style.
  • SI style: 1 234 567.89 (dot countries) or 1 234 567,89 (comma countries)

Dot countries

Countries where a dot is used to mark the radix point include:

Australia, Botswana, Canada (English-speaking), China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea (both North and South), Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States,

Comma countries

Countries where a comma is used to mark the radix point include:

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada (French-speaking), Croatia, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Faroes, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Indonesia, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Decimal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1073 words)
Decimal notation is the writing of numbers in the base 10 numeral system, which uses various symbols for ten distinct quantities (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, called digits) to represent numbers.
These digits are frequently used with a decimal point which indicates the start of a fractional part, and with one of the sign symbols + (plus) or − (minus) to indicate sign.
Decimal fractions can be expressed without a denominator, the decimal point being inserted into the numerator (with leading zeros added if needed), at the position from the right corresponding to the power of ten of the denominator.
Decimal separator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (505 words)
The decimal separator is a symbol used to mark the boundary between the integer and the fractional parts of a decimal numeral.
This had the advantage of reducing confusion with the countries that used the period to separate groups of digits, but as the middle dot was already in common use in world mathematics to indicate multiplication (for example, in the dot product), the SI rejected this use of this symbol for this purpose.
However, the use of the period as decimal point was not banned.
  More results at FactBites »



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