In a scientific paper, when quoting a chemical, is it more appropriate to write its formula or its name?

For example:

Ion exchange removed nitrate ions from solution.


Ion exchange removed NO3- from solution.

  • 1
    I would say, write NO3- only if you can write subscript 3 and superscript - , otherwise write something else. – GEdgar Jun 25 '19 at 11:33

It depends on the situation (context). If the English term is clear, unambiguous, and helpful, use it. If that term leaves doubt about the exact chemical you mean, and this makes an important difference, give the formula to be precise. There are times you may want to give both, even if the identity is well known, just to track a process: "Electrolysis can split water (H2O) into its constituents hydrogen and oxygen."

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