How to Write 1 Trillion in Scientific Notation

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  • 0:04 What is Scientific Notation?
  • 1:04 Steps to Solve
  • 2:51 Fun Facts and Application
  • 5:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Pennington

Laura received her Master's degree in Pure Mathematics from Michigan State University. She has 15 years of experience teaching collegiate mathematics at various institutions.

Scientific notation can help us write really big numbers in a convenient format. Here, we'll see how to write one trillion in scientific notation. We'll also look at some fun facts about the number one trillion and the application of writing numbers in scientific notation.

What Is Scientific Notation?

Okay, so we want to know how to write one trillion in scientific notation. This is a really large number, but you'll be glad to know that the process for writing one trillion in scientific notation is the same as it is for writing any number in scientific notation. The best part? It's pretty easy!

First of all, let's take a look at the number one trillion in standard form.


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Wow! 1,000,000,000,000! How'd you like that to be your bank account balance? Well, it would be great, but it would also be extremely tedious to have to write this number out every time you had to write out your account balance. Thank goodness for scientific notation!

Scientific notation is used to write very large or very small numbers in the nice compact form of a real number multiplied by a power of 10. That is, a x 10b, where a is a real number, and b is an integer called the exponent of 10.


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Steps to Solve

To write a number in scientific notation, we use the following steps.

  1. Identify the decimal point in the original number, and move that decimal point to sit directly after the first non-zero digit in the number. This new number will be a when you write the number in scientific notation.
  2. Make note of which direction you moved the decimal point in step one. If you moved it to the right, then b will be negative. If you moved it to the left, then b will be positive.
  3. We need to find b by counting the number of places that we moved the decimal in step 1. This will be b, and it will be positive or negative depending on which direction you moved in step 2.

Well, hey, that's pretty easy when we look at it in steps like that! Okay, let's put the steps into action by writing one trillion in scientific notation.

First, we identify the decimal point and move it so that it sits directly after the first non-zero digit in the number. In 1000000000000, the first non-zero digit is 1, so we move the decimal point at the end of the number to sit directly after 1.


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We see that the resulting number is 1, so this will be our a in scientific notation.

Next, we take note of what direction we moved the decimal when we moved it.


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We moved it to the left, so our b will be positive. Now we just have to find our b. To do this, we move onto the third step and count how many places we moved the decimal when we moved it.


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We see that we moved the decimal 12 places to the left. Therefore, our b will be 12, and we already found that it should be positive. We're all set! We can now write one trillion in scientific notation like this:

1000000000000 = 1 x 1012


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Fun Facts and Application

As we see, one trillion is a huge number; but just how huge is it? Let's take a look at some fun facts to help us really grasp just how large this number is.

  • A foot is a pretty small increment of distance, but if you were to measure out one trillion feet, you would end up with roughly 189,000,000 miles.
  • One minute of your life seems very short, but if you were to consider one trillion minutes, you would be looking at nearly 1,900,000 years.
  • Consider a dollar bill. These pieces of paper are so thin, their width seems miniscule. However, if you were to stack one trillion one-dollar bills on top of each other, the pile would be nearly 68,000 miles high.

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