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I understand that a double-headed arrow indicates the transfer of two electrons and that a single headed arrow indicates the transfer of one electron, but all the diagrams in the course reader/examples done in class seem to use double-headed arrows anyway. When is it necessary to differentiate between the two and specifically draw either single or double-headed arrows?
Single electron transfers are pretty rare, but when you are solving a problem you should be aware of how many electrons are moving by comparing the two structures. That determines what arrow you use.
I believe we can focus mostly on using the double headed arrow for this class, and just know that the single headed arrow simply means that one electron is being transferred. The use of the one headed arrow is really rare and no problems in the organic textbook require the use of a single headed arrow. (At least the ones assigned to us).
A double headed arrow is used in the case when 2 electrons are getting passed. This is why we normally use a double-headed arrow. A single headed arrow is a little less common as it refers to only 1 electron getting passed. When dealing with bonds we are typically dealing with 2 electrons which is why its more common to see the double headed arrow rather than the single headed arrow. Hope this helps!
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