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Usually how I think of it is if it's just the element alone, like C or Na or Ag, they're in their "standard state," unless they're diatomic gases like O2 or F2 which are also in their standard states. But a compound like CO2 isn't in a standard state and therefore you'd have to look up its standard enthalpy of formation. And I'm pretty sure the equation would usually give the states of matter of the compounds in the reaction.
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