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Formal charge of an atom indicates gain/loss of electrons while forming covalent bond. So, to assign formal charge of an atom, first, determine the number of valence electrons for each bound atom, then compare the number of bounding (shared, S) electron and the number of lone pairs (L) of free atom by using this formula: FC = V - (L+S/2).
The preferred formal charge is 0. When he gave the example of sulphate SO4, the lewis structure was technically correct but the formal charges weren't ideal. We use formal charge to give us better lewis dot structures. When you're drawing lewis dot structures and you can't get all of the formal charges to 0 you should have the more electronegative/higher electron affinity element have the negative formal charge.
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