### Scientific Notation (general requirement for the course)

Posted:

**Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:24 am**Are we required to write our answers in scientific notation? Or are the correct significant figures the only requirement?

Created by Dr. Laurence Lavelle

https://lavelle.chem.ucla.edu/forum/

https://lavelle.chem.ucla.edu/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=46055

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Posted: **Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:24 am**

Are we required to write our answers in scientific notation? Or are the correct significant figures the only requirement?

Posted: **Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:34 am**

I think we use scientific notation to write the answer with the correct number of significant figures. So if the answer was 12300 but the question only asks for 2 sig figs, we would write it as 1.2 x 10^4.

Posted: **Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:36 am**

You could also write it as 12000 because that also uses only 2 significant figures. Any zeros to the right of a whole number are not considered significant figures.

Posted: **Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:37 pm**

If they do not specify which format we should use does it matter? Is there one that's better than the other?Audrie Chan-3B wrote:I think we use scientific notation to write the answer with the correct number of significant figures. So if the answer was 12300 but the question only asks for 2 sig figs, we would write it as 1.2 x 10^4.

Posted: **Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:44 pm**

Maya Pakulski 3D wrote:If they do not specify which format we should use does it matter? Is there one that's better than the other?Audrie Chan-3B wrote:I think we use scientific notation to write the answer with the correct number of significant figures. So if the answer was 12300 but the question only asks for 2 sig figs, we would write it as 1.2 x 10^4.

I think as long as you have the correct number of sig figs it shouldn't matter. So 12300 in a question with two sig figs could be written as 1.2 x 10^4 or 12000.

Posted: **Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:45 pm**

I'm not entirely sure, I think that you're only required to write the correct amount of sig figs, but there can be cases were scientific notation would be more practical. I would just make sure that the reader can understand the sig figs in your answer.