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If you're not given the Newman projections but you have the formula of the molecule it is helpful to draw it out and see where the atoms would be positioned in order to determine the type of interactions it would have.
Torsional strain is the strain that exists when atoms are eclipsed with respect to each other. Steric strain, on the other hand, exists when atoms are physically in contact with one another (e.g. flagpole interaction in the boat conformation).
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