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For an ion, for example SO4 2-, do you want the overall formal charge to be zero or 2-? I'm confused because I remember Dr. Lavelle mentioning that compounds are most stable with a formal charge of zero, but I also remember something about how you have to maintain the charge of the ion.
I think Dr. Lavelle meant for the central atom of sulfur to have a formal charge of 0, but the overall formal charge to stay at 2-. For sulfur here, with 6 valence electrons, in the formula FC = V - (l + s/2), FC = 6-(0 +12/2), FC=0.
I think the central charge only contributes to the overall net charge of the atom, so as long as the charge of the central atom in addition to the other atoms equal the overall charge, it'll be fine because that's what you're looking for.
Unless the question states that it wants the resonance structure drawn, then technically you would not have to draw it to determine formal charge because you could just use the formula; however, is extremely helpful to draw it out to make sure you have the correct number of lone pair and shared electrons.
When it comes to formal charge your goal is for it to be zero (or closest to zero) because it represents the stability of the specific atom. That is why you take the formal charge of each atom present in your compound, to see if they are all formally charged to 0.
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