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The `M-%` (`calc-percent`

) command takes a percentage value,
say 5.4, and converts it to an equivalent actual number. For example,
`5.4 M-%` enters 0.054 on the stack. (That's the <META> or
<ESC> key combined with `%`.)

Actually, `M-%` creates a formula of the form ‘`5.4%`’.
You can enter ‘`5.4%`’ yourself during algebraic entry. The
‘`%`’ operator simply means, “the preceding value divided by
100.” The ‘`%`’ operator has very high precedence, so that
‘`1+8%`’ is interpreted as ‘`1+(8%)`’, not as ‘`(1+8)%`’.
(The ‘`%`’ operator is just a postfix notation for the
`percent`

function, just like ‘`20!`’ is the notation for
‘`fact(20)`’, or twenty-factorial.)

The formula ‘`5.4%`’ would normally evaluate immediately to
0.054, but the `M-%` command suppresses evaluation as it puts
the formula onto the stack. However, the next Calc command that
uses the formula ‘`5.4%`’ will evaluate it as its first step.
The net effect is that you get to look at ‘`5.4%`’ on the stack,
but Calc commands see it as ‘`0.054`’, which is what they expect.

In particular, ‘`5.4%`’ and ‘`0.054`’ are suitable values
for the `rate` arguments of the various financial functions,
but the number ‘`5.4`’ is probably *not* suitable—it
represents a rate of 540 percent!

The key sequence `M-% *` effectively means “percent-of.”
For example, `68 <RET> 25 M-% *` computes 17, which is 25% of
68 (and also 68% of 25, which comes out to the same thing).

The `c %` (`calc-convert-percent`

) command converts the
value on the top of the stack from numeric to percentage form.
For example, if 0.08 is on the stack, `c %` converts it to
‘`8%`’. The quantity is the same, it's just represented
differently. (Contrast this with `M-%`, which would convert
this number to ‘`0.08%`’.) The `=` key is a convenient way
to convert a formula like ‘`8%`’ back to numeric form, 0.08.

To compute what percentage one quantity is of another quantity,
use `/ c %`. For example, `17 <RET> 68 / c %` displays
‘`25%`’.

The `b %` (`calc-percent-change`

) [`relch`

] command
calculates the percentage change from one number to another.
For example, `40 <RET> 50 b %` produces the answer ‘`25%`’,
since 50 is 25% larger than 40. A negative result represents a
decrease: `50 <RET> 40 b %` produces ‘`-20%`’, since 40 is
20% smaller than 50. (The answers are different in magnitude
because, in the first case, we're increasing by 25% of 40, but
in the second case, we're decreasing by 20% of 50.) The effect
of `40 <RET> 50 b %` is to compute ‘`(50-40)/40`’, converting
the answer to percentage form as if by `c %`.