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Percentage sign placement - any "manual of style" for Arabic?
Thread poster: Jan Sundström

Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:26
English to Swedish
+ ...
Dec 8, 2009

Hi all,

Sorry for posting in English.
I recently found out about the placement of the percentage point in Arabic. I understand that the standard way to write is "%18", as equivalent of the western "18%"

I found this discussion on the same topic:

Although people I've asked seem a bit hazy on this. Since the placement in Farsi is still "18%", the usage in the border areas isn't totally clear cut. A native Sorani speaker in Iraq for instance told me that he would go for "18%" even when writing Arabic in Iraq.

Is there anything like a written manual of style for Arabic (Like Oxford, Chicago... etc), where the usage of these typographical features is regulated?

And what about CAT software? I'd assume that a smart program like Trados would treat percentage figures intelligently like a placeble, and reverse the percentage sign automatically, if that's the standard. Or maybe there's even a manual override for that?

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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:26
English to Arabic
+ ...
Stay with that term as shown. No such Arabic style manual around Dec 9, 2009


You can stay with that term as shown: 18%, versus %18.

That seems to be the conventional practice, especially when using bidirectional multi-language word-processing programs (some of which have their own peculiarities when you are trying to reverse or transpose numbers and symbols, or their combinations, such as that one you mention, plus wobbling up symbols at the ends of sentences).

No such Arabic style manual exists, as best I know.

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
English - Arabic,
Kurdish, and Persian
San Pedro, California

[Edited at 2009-12-09 01:26 GMT]

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Alaa Zeineldine  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:26
Member (2002)
English to Arabic
+ ...
On the left Dec 10, 2009


Like Stephen, I am not aware of a particular standard. However, I prefer to put the percent sign on the left.

Consider the sign as a shorthand for the word بالمائة, which it is, and replace it by the actual word. Where would you put the word in this case?

Another test for which way is more natural is to internally vocalize the text as we read, or to read out loud. The sign should not disrupt our flow, i.e. by vocalizing "percent" before the number as we read from right to left.

You can also treat the percent sign as you treat rates (km/hour, kbps, dollars/1000 words, etc.). Where would you place those units in Arabic?

What do you think?

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Percentage sign placement - any "manual of style" for Arabic?

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