Organic compounds can be represented by:

  • Empirical formula: shows the simplest whole number ratio of atoms of each element in the compound.
  • Molecular formula: The formula which shows the actual number of each type of atom.
  • General formula: algebraic formula for a homologous series e.g. CnH2n
  • Structural formula: shows the arrangement of atoms in a molecule, eg for butane: CH3CH2CH2CH3 or CH3(CH2)2CH3
  • Displayed formula: shows all the covalent bonds and atoms present in a molecule
  • Skeletal formula: shows the simplified organic formula, shown by removing hydrogen atoms from alkyl chains, leaving just a carbon skeleton and associated functional Groups.