How to Write a Number in Standard Form Video

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  • 0:04 Very Large Numbers
  • 0:28 Standard Form
  • 1:36 Converting to Standard Form
  • 2:52 Examples
  • 6:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Would you like to learn how to write a gigantic or extra small number in a simple manner? This lesson provides very clear-cut rules on how to do so for any number you come across.

Very Large Numbers

Do me a favor real quick. Tell me how large this number is and say what this number is out loud:


Kind of ridiculous, isn't it? That number is so huge that virtually no one will know exactly what it is, even if there's a name for a number that big, like a million bazillion quintillion. That's not very convenient. This is why we write numbers in standard form. It's just much easier and faster.

Standard Form

Standard form can mean many different things, depending on which part of math we're actually dealing with. However, in this lesson's case, standard form is really another name for the scientific notation of a number. Think of the standard form/scientific notation as shorthand writing, but for math instead of note-taking. Scientific notation is really easy. In scientific notation we write a number in this format:

A x 10b

In this notation:

  • A is a number that's known as the coefficient. The coefficient must be greater than or equal to 1 but less than 10.
  • 'x' is the multiplication sign pronounced as 'times.'
  • 10 is the base, and it must always be 10 in scientific notation.
  • b is a number that's the exponent, also known as the power of 10.

Thus, it would be read correctly as A x 10b.

For instance in this equation:

5.2 x 103

5.2 is the coefficient, 10 is the base, and 3 is the exponent. We read this number correctly as ''five point two times ten to the power of three.''

Converting to Standard Form

So how do we convert a number to standard form? Remember this one?


Preliminary step: if the number in question does not show a decimal point (the '.') already, put the decimal point at the very end of the number.

Step 1. Move the number's decimal point so that it's located right after the first non-zero digit in the number`:


Step 2. Count the number of places from this new decimal point to where the decimal point used to be. If you moved the decimal point to the left, the exponent is positive, if you moved it to the right, the exponent is negative. There are 43 leftward places from the new decimal point to the place where it was originally. This is your exponent: 43.

Step 3. Drop any zeroes that are located before the first non-zero digit and after the last non-zero digit to be left with your coefficient. All we're left with is 1 since this is our only non-zero number anywhere. This means our coefficient is 1.

Step 4. Combine steps 2 and 3 to get 1 x 1043, which is the same thing as 1043.

Boom! You're done.


Let's run through some more examples.

Example 1

Convert the following into standard notation:


The number has no decimal point, so we make it into this:


Next, we move the decimal point and place it right after the first digit:


Next, we count how many places we moved the decimal point. We moved it 9 leftward places. That's our exponent, 9.

Next, we drop all the zeros following the last non-zero digit in our number. What's the last non-zero digit? 5. So we drop all the zeros that follow it to get our coefficient of:


That means our new number is 5.675 x 109.

Let's try another example.

Example 2


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