What to say when figures appear as though they "don't add up"--bu t do

Subject: What to say when figures appear as though they "don't add up"--bu t do
From: "Cummings, Elizabeth" <CummEl -at- ncs -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 10:51:22 -0600

The application my team developed has the capability of generating many
(50+) reports. All the reports show figures that, at the maximum, extend to
one decimal point--but most show only figures that are whole numbers. To the
layperson's eye, some of these figures don't appear to add up, and I
understand from the development side that this is due to rounding (e.g., On
one report, column A shows "4" and column B shows "2", and these two columns
should add up to the sum shown in column C, which is "7". In this situation,
"4" was really 4.3, and "2" was really 2.3--the sum of which of course
rounds up to 7.).

As you can probably tell already, I am no "math person", but this concept
makes sense to me: When I see that a figure in one of our many reports that
is off by one or I see a total does not register as a perfect 100%, I know
that this is the result of the behind-the-scenes rounding. Apparently,
though, several users are troubled by such seeming miscalculations, and my
manager asked whether I knew of any industry-wide standard for explaining
this scenario so that I could include it in our user's guide.

Thanks so much for your time.

--Elizabeth Cummings


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