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On Wikipedia: Percent sign, there is following claim:

In German, the space is prescribed by the regulatory body in the national standard DIN 5008.

I can't speak German, so I can't read the whole standard. What does it say about it? Should there be a space or not?

And is what the standard says the same what is actually taught in German grammar?

  • Are you sure you need actually DIN 5008? Or rather tradition and good practice in professional typesetting? Since DIN 5008 is meant predominantly for office and bureaucratic use (business communication and administrative bodies), and it relates to writing on a typewriter (once) or standard office software (today), but not professional typesetting (e.g. publishing books). – Christian Geiselmann Feb 11 '18 at 16:12
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This is a question about typography in German texts.
Typically, typography is not a subject in grammar teaching.
That results in a lot of awful typography all around.

As witnessed at Prozentzeichen:

Wie bei Maßeinheiten wird zwischen die Zahl und das Prozentzeichen ein geschütztes Leerzeichen gesetzt. Der Duden empfiehlt hier, einen kleineren, festen Zwischenraum zu verwenden. Nach dem Chicago Manual of Style soll allerdings in englischsprachigen Texten kein Zwischenraum zwischen eine Zahl und ein Prozentzeichen gesetzt werden.

Meaning: contrary to English rules (CMS), where a number should be followed without a space, in German texts the number is followed with a nonbreaking space. (And Duden for example even recommends a narrower spatium [Schmales Leerzeichen, thin space]. That is extremely rare to find except in texts by people who really care about typography.) – Exact rules for English texts should follow the style guide that fits your application.

Non-breaking space means that between number and sign will never be a line break. Even that is quite rare in actual use, but very recommended. While most aspects of these special format spaces rules are nearly invisible to an untrained eye, a new line starting with a percent sign is.

A non-breaking space can be encoded in HTML with   and is accessed for most editors on different platforms as follows:

Windows:    Alt+0+1+6+0 (doesn't always work)
Mac:        ⌥Opt+Space
Linux(X11): Compose, Space, Space or AltGr+Space

A spatium encoded in HTL with   and is accessed

Windows:     Alt+2+0+0+6 (there are five versions between alt+2001 and alt+2007)
Mac:         Shift+Opt+Space
Linux:       Ctrl+Shift+Space

To illustrate:

  • 100% version without space
  • 100 % version with thin space
  • 100 % version with normal non-breaking space for comparison
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    In Windows, a small space is <kbd>alt</kbd>+2006 (there are five versions between alt+2001 and alt+2007, see en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitespace_character) – Aganju Feb 11 '18 at 3:52
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    Alll professional typesetting tools (such as InDesign, and all the others) provide special small spaces, specifically made for the respective font face. Traditionally they come as hair space, sixth space, thin space, quarter space and so on, sometimes also as n-space and m-space. – Christian Geiselmann Feb 11 '18 at 15:37
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    Note that according to ISO 80000 as well as The International System of Units (SI), a space separates the number and the symbol % in English texts, too. (The Chicago Manual of Style is probably not a good source for technical and scientific writing.) – Loong Feb 12 '18 at 8:02
  • @LangLangC How did you enter the thin space for illustration in the question editor? For me it is rendered way too big here. – Thomas Feb 12 '18 at 9:02
  • @Thomas I did not. Held the SE editor for a limited beast and left if out myself. Thought visibility was bad just on my platform, since 2 ppl approved the edit. – But is this better now? To my eyes the difference is way to small. Maybe it's just the fonts? – LаngLаngС Feb 12 '18 at 12:20
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To complete the excellent answer by @LangLangC here the relevant passage from DIN 5008:2011-04 Schreib- und Gestaltungsregeln für die Textverarbeitung as requested in OP:

8.7 Prozent- und Promillezeichen

Vor dem Prozent- und Promillezeichen wird ein Leerzeichen gesetzt. Das Leerzeichen entfällt bei Ableitungen.
2 % Skonto
3 1/4 % Zinsen
38%ig

o/oo (mit Kleinbuchstaben o) oder ‰
2 o/oo
2 ‰ Maklergebühr

Which translates roughly to:

A space is to be placed in front of percent or permill signs. But not if used in derivative forms such as 38%ig

(The second paragraph is about how to use o/oo as an replacement for the permill sign ‰)

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    Where did you get this? I searched for it, and found it to be extremely hard to get. I ended up ordering a book meant for students etc. - The official commission seems to offer a printed version of that document for, unbelievably, 130 euros. I thought something like this should be available online? – Christian Geiselmann Feb 12 '18 at 8:38
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    @ChristianGeiselmann Welcome to DIN and its publishing company Beuth Verlag, I once thought as well DIN is public/common sense but it isn't. – Thomas Feb 12 '18 at 8:56
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    @ChristianGeiselmann I'm a student, so I have access via the online library of my institution. – PeterE Feb 12 '18 at 10:58
  • @PeterE Oh, public libraries, of course. Stupid that I did not think of them. - Well, so, but as long as this is not even publicly available (without hassle) - why should one care to follow it? Grmpf... – Christian Geiselmann Feb 12 '18 at 13:16
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    @ChristianGeiselmann Well, no, not a public library. It's more like this: My institution has some kind of contract with the Beuth Verlag, which allows - for computers within the university network - access to some kind of (horrid) management software for DIN and other norms (called perinorm and apparently provided or soled by Beuth) which is apparently hosted by some institution of the state of Baden-Württemberg, which by the way is not the state my institution is in. – PeterE Feb 12 '18 at 13:54

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