Scientific Notation
It is not unusual to encounter very small or very large numbers during a scientific investigation. But, these
numbers are inconvenient to write and can be confusing when attempting to maintain accuracy. Therefore, scientists
usually express numbers using scientific notation.
Scientific notation makes very large numbers or very small numbers easier to work with in
calculations and data. It also provides a way to show the appropriate significant
figures when there are several zeroes involved.
Scientific notation is based on the powers of ten and is written in the following form:
#.### x 10^{n} or #.### x 10^{n}
Notice that in order to be in proper scientific notation there should only be one leading
digit followed only by the significant digits.
Scientific Notation Rules
 Move the decimal point to the right or the left in order obtain only one
leading digit.
 If the decimal is moved to the right, then subtract from the power of 10 the number of
times you moved the decimal.
 If the decimal is moved to the left, then add to the power of 10 the number of times you
moved the decimal.
Example: 5,230 = 5.23 x 103 or .00523 = 5.23 x 103
Practice
800,000 m

→

8 x 10^{5} m

0.0015 kg

→ 
1.5 x 10^{3} kg

60,200 L

→ 
6.02 x 10^{4} L 
0.000006 km

→ 
6 x 10^{6} km 
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