Decimal Point

What Does Decimal Point Mean?

With a decimal number system, a decimal point is used to denote the decimal part of the number. Unlike the separators used for digit grouping such as the thousands separator, no separators are used to the right of the decimal point. Different countries officially designate different symbols for the decimal point. In most English-speaking countries, the decimal point is usually denoted by a period/dot to separate the whole number from its fractional parts. However, in continental Europe, the decimal point is usually denoted with the comma.


The decimal point is also known as a decimal mark.

Techopedia Explains Decimal Point

The choice of symbol for the decimal point affects the choice of symbol for the thousands separator, which is largely used in digit grouping. Unicode has provided a decimal separator key symbol which is similar to the apostrophe. It is intended for usage on the keyboard in order to perform decimal separation.

Most of the standard data formats as well as computer programming languages use the dot to specify the decimal point. However, computer operating systems allow the selection of the symbol for the decimal point, whereas some programs are internationalized to follow the pattern. While there are applications which ignore the decimal mark, there are also a few which fail to operate if the setting for the decimal point has been altered. The decimal point has a large influence on all computational devices, including electronic calculators and PCs.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.