I saw a commercial on TV for McDonalds touting Customer Appreciation Day. I didn't get the gist of the message. What got my attention was the text on the screen:

¢25 cents

The cents sign was placed in the position of the dollar sign.

Many people today do not use the cents sign, I believe because it is no longer on a typical keyboard. Where at one time it was prominent, the addition of other symbols needed for computer programming necessitated the removal of the cents sign from the keyboard.


Years ago many items cost less than a buck, so you would see the cents sign all over the place. With the lack of the cent sign on a computer keyboard, people are forced to use the dollar sign. For example: 25-cents would look like $.25.

According to every Mathematics class I attended, the correct placement of the cent sign is to the right of the numerals: 50¢. Do not place a decimal point next to the number preceding a cent sign (.50¢), for this would be interpreted as  five-tenths of a cent.

Regarding placement of the dollar and cent signs, the United States has followed suit with England. England places the pound sign (£) to the left of the numerals, and the pence (p) symbol to the right of the numerals.

I do not know if the use of the cents sign is something that is no longer being taught in schools, or if students forget because the cents sign is not a part of their everyday life. Since there isn't much use of the cents sign, some people, when they do use it, can end up putting it in the wrong place.

Want some interesting reading? Check out this discussion about the proper placement of the cent currency sign (by the way - all of them are to the right of the numerals, they are just at different heights).

When was the last time you used the cents sign? Are you too young to remember it being on a typewriter keyboard, or did you tickle the keys of a Smith-Corona in your younger days. Comment below.

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