8

Consider the chart below:

Example Cchart

When writing percent in the title, and % on the axis marks, is this redundant? Is the word amount preferable?

I haven’t seen this addressed in any style guides such as the APA guidelines.

  • 1
    Please avoid writing "percentage" in the title, just report the quantity that it's represented. For instance, in the example you linked, a more appropriate title would be: "Fraction of the widgets that are blue". – Massimo Ortolano Mar 9 '17 at 21:39
  • @MassimoOrtolano: That looks like it can be extended to an answer. – Wrzlprmft Mar 9 '17 at 22:08
  • Thanks for the input/answer. I did consider "Fraction," but found it equally odd saying "fraction" then reporting percentages. Still, I'm definitely considering your input! Also, thank you Wrzlprmft for the formatting edits. (And the typing tutor that is your username.) – ancientcampus Mar 9 '17 at 22:12
8

Percentage (parts per hundred) and, more broadly, abbreviations like ppm (parts per million) or ppb (parts per billion) do not describe any quantity, they are just multipliers for dimensionless quantities.

In a graph, instead, you should accurately describe the quantity being represented. In the example given in your question, a more appropriate title would probably be: "Fraction of the widgets that are blue".

In the SI brochure, §5.3.7, the document that defines the International System of Units, it is stated that

In mathematical expressions, the internationally recognized symbol % (percent) may be used with the SI to represent the number 0.01. Thus, it can be used to express the values of dimensionless quantities.

and, furthermore,

Phrases such as "percentage by mass", "percentage by volume", or "percentage by amount of substance" should not be used; the extra information on the quantity should instead be conveyed in the name and symbol for the quantity.

The percent symbol can, instead, appear in the tick labels.

-3

At least in physics, usually graphs do not have a title at all.

  • True, in most forms of academia you can expect something along the lines of "Figure 2: percent of widgets that are blue". – ancientcampus Mar 10 '17 at 13:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.