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# What does it mean if you get a negative number when you calculate for percent error?

Updated: 4/28/2022

Wiki User

13y ago

Depending on whether you subtract actual value from expected value or other way around, a positive or negative percent error, will tell you on which side of the expected value that your actual value is. For example, suppose your expected value is 24, and your actual value is 24.3 then if you do the following calculation to figure percent error:

[percent error] = (actual value - expected value)/(actual value) - 1 --> then convert to percent.

So you have (24.3 - 24)/24 -1 = .0125 --> 1.25%, which tells me the actual is higher than the expected. If instead, you subtracted the actual from the expected, then you would get a negative 1.25%, but your actual is still greater than the expected. My preference is to subtract the expected from the actual. That way a positive error tells you the actual is greater than expected, and a negative percent error tells you that the actual is less than the expected.

Wiki User

13y ago