Skip to Main Content

SciFinder-n Research Guide: Home

Chemical Literature

Chemistry literature. What is unique? Symbols, formulae, and equations.

All elements in the periodic are represented by a single alphabet or two alphabets. The first letter is Capitalised and the second is always lowercase. Example Magnesium-Mg

Example C is an element of Carbon

Compounds: Elements chemically react to form a compound -CO2

Chemical equations are unique to the language of chemistry.

In a chemical change, new substances are formed. In order for this to occur, the chemical bonds of the substances break, and the atoms that compose them separate and rearrange themselves into new substances with new chemical bonds. When this process occurs, we call it a chemical reaction. A chemical reaction is the process in which one or more substances are changed into one or more new substances.

Reactants and Products

To describe a chemical reaction, we need to indicate what substances are present at the beginning and what substances are present at the end. The substances that are present at the beginning are called reactants and the substances present at the end are called products.

Symbols used in Chemical equations

There are a few special symbols that we need to know in order to "talk" in chemical shorthand. The table below is a summary of the major symbols used in chemical equations. Table shows a listing of symbols used in chemical equations.

Table Symbols Used in Chemical Equations
Symbol Description Symbol Description
+ used to separate multiple reactants or products (s) reactant or product in the solid state
yield sign; separates reactants from products (l) reactant or product in the liquid state
replaces the yield sign for reversible reactions that reach equilibrium (g) reactant or product in the gas state
→Pt formula written above the arrow is used as a catalyst in the reaction (aq) reactant or product in an aqueous solution (dissolved in water)
→Δ triangle indicates that the reaction is being heated  


Nomenclature of Coordination Complexes


Kindlon Hall
5700 College Rd.
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 829-6050


Gillett Hall
225 E. Main St.
Mesa, AZ 85201
(480) 878-7514