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Work is positive (done on the system) if it adds energy to the system. For example, if you increase the pressure of a gas using a piston, you are doing work on the gas because you are adding energy to it. If you heat a gas, you are adding energy to it, therefore you are doing work on it.
If work is done on the system it is positive. If work is done by the system it is negative. This is kind of like temperature changes in a system being endothermic and exothermic. If heat is being given into a system it’s positive and if heat is leaving the system it’s negative.
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