What is the Difference Between Margin and Markup?

Difference Between Margin and Markup

Share This...

Difference Between Margin and Markup

Both margin and markup are important profitability metrics in business, but they measure different things and are calculated differently:

  • Margin: Also known as profit margin, it represents the percentage of the selling price that is profit. Margin is a measure of profitability from the seller’s perspective, indicating how much of the sales price is left after deducting the cost of goods sold (COGS). Margin is typically used to assess a company’s profitability at different levels: gross margin, operating margin, and net margin.The formula to calculate margin is:
    \(\frac{\text{Selling Price – Cost}}{\text{Selling Price}} \times 100 \)
  • Markup: Markup represents the percentage of the cost price that is added to the cost to determine the selling price. It is essentially the amount added to the cost price to cover overheads and profit. Markup is typically used in setting the sales price of an item.The formula to calculate markup is:
    \(\frac{\text{Selling Price – Cost}}{\text{Cost}} \times 100 \)

The key difference between margin and markup lies in the way they are calculated and the perspective they provide. Margin is a ratio of profit to selling price, while markup is a ratio of profit to cost price.

Example of the Difference Between Margin and Markup

Let’s say we have a business that is selling a product. The cost to produce the product is $50, and they are selling it for $100. Let’s calculate the margin and markup.


Using the formula \(\frac{\text{Selling Price – Cost}}{\text{Selling Price}} \times 100 \), we calculate:

\(\frac{\text{100 – 50}}{100} \times 100 = \text{50%} \)

So, the profit margin is 50%. This means that 50% of the selling price is profit.


Using the formula \(\frac{\text{Selling Price – Cost}}{\text{Cost}} \times 100 \), we calculate:

\(\frac{\text{100 – 50}}{50} \times 100 = \text{100%} \)

So, the markup on the cost is 100%. This means that the selling price is 100% above the cost price.

This example illustrates the difference between margin and markup. Despite the product selling for twice the cost price, the margin is 50%, not 100%, because margin is calculated based on the selling price. On the other hand, markup is 100% because it’s calculated based on the cost price.

Other Posts You'll Like...

Want to Pass as Fast as Possible?

(and avoid failing sections?)

Watch one of our free "Study Hacks" trainings for a free walkthrough of the SuperfastCPA study methods that have helped so many candidates pass their sections faster and avoid failing scores...