Adding and subtracting decimals follows exactly the same procedure as adding and subtracting whole numbers. However, decimals require a better understanding of place value.

The column method with decimals

Adding and subtracting using the column method also works for decimals. However, there are a few things to take note of.

Reminder when using the column method with decimals

Remember to line up all the numbers that come after the decimal point as well - so the tenths, hundredths, thousandths and so on.

Use zero as a placeholder if one number has fewer place values than the other.

It is possible to "carry over a one" or "borrow a one" from the units digit to the tenths digit - the decimal point isn't a barrier!

The decimal point should be aligned under the answer line also.

Example: subtraction

What is $2.198-0.52$?

Align the two numbers as normal, making sure to line up the decimal point and all digits after the point.

Note how $0.52$ has no thousandths digit, but $2.198$ does. So, add zero as a placeholder so both numbers have the same amount of digits. $0.52$ is hence written as $0.520$.