 # Line Up the Points

Subtracting decimals is easy. When we worked with whole numbers, we lined up the ones column before we started the subtraction process. You can still do that with decimals, but sometimes you won't have a value in the ones column. What do you do? Line up the decimal points! The rest is plain old subtraction, where you start on the right and move to the left. If you have any missing spaces, just think of them as zero values or write the zeros in yourself.

Example:
 0.253 - 0.03  ?

• We lined up the decimal points for you but there are some spaces. Let's fill them in with zero values.
 0.253 - 0.030 ?

So the answer is 0.223.

When you work with decimals and the metric system, it's nice to write that first zero in the answer so the reader knows the value is less than one. It's just easier to read than starting the number with a dot.

Example:
 0.101  - 0.0235 ?

• You're going to have to borrow in this problem, just like you've done before. It also looks like you need a 0 at the end of your minuend.
 0.1010 - 0.0235 ?

It's easier to see that you will need to regroup, even for the ones column.
Your final answer will be 0.0775

## Related Activities Comparing the Sums of Simple Decimals - Play Activity Subtracting Decimals with Tenths - Play Activity ► NEXT PAGE ON FRACTIONS & DECIMALS
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Numbernut: Decimal Multiplication
Numbernut: More Basic Math
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