Chemical Principles/Style Guide

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This open-content textbook is based on the existing Chemical Principles, 3rd edition by Dickerson, Gray and Haight. The text is used as the starting point for this open-content edition with the permission of the authors. The 3rd edition is currently available from

Although the purpose of an open-content book is to allow authors to improve upon the existing text, we have established some general guidelines to encourage uniformity of formatting across chapters.

Here is a simple guide to creating the most common types of objects in the text. You can edit this page, or any section of the page, in order to see how a particular formatting example was created. Feel free to cut/paste the examples into the chapters to serve as a guide to creating similar objects there

More detailed help with editing wikibooks can be found at Help:Editing

Regular Text[edit]

Please insert normal text without any special formatting. Because this is a chemistry text, there are many chemical formulas that involve both subscripts and superscripts. For example, H2O and Ca2+. Use the editing tools to put these in using HTML codes

Use two RETURN keystrokes to create a blank line for a new paragraph. Please do not indent new paragraphs.

To create a new section, type a section heading surrounded by double equals signs like this: ==New Section Heading==

To create a new subsection, type a subsection heading surrounded by triple equals signs like this: ===New Subsection Heading===


There are two basic types of equations, numbered and unnumbered. Chemical equations almost always use the forward arrow. This can be inserted directly using a special button located below the editing box. Alternatively, you may enter the right arrow using the code &rarr; (→) and similarly for a left arrow &larr; (←).

Equations Without Numbers[edit]

If an equation does not have a number, then enter it in the normal text format, except that it should be indented, like this:

2 H2(g) + O2(g) → 2 H2O(l)

Indentation should be done using a colon to start the line containing the equation. Sometimes, it is desirable to use a table to format a complex equation. The table can be indented using a leading colon, too. Here's an example where a table with no borders has been used to align the labels with the chemical formulas in the equation:

acetic acid acetate ion

Numbered Equations[edit]

The original text has many equations that are numbered in order to be able to refer to them in the text. To create a numbered equation, enter it on a separate line beginning with a space. For uniformity, I have been entering equations with 7 blank spaces preceding the first character. The equation number goes on the right hand side, and is entered as the chapter number and equation number, e.g., (2-6) for the 6th numbered equation in Chapter 2. Here's an example of a numbered equation:

      CaCO3(s) + 2 H+(aq) → Ca2+(aq) + CO2(g) + H2O(l)        (2-6)

Math Equations[edit]

Mathematical expressions appear throughout the text, usually in the example boxes. Use the TeX language, embedded in a pair of <math></math> tags, to create these. Here's an example:

More detailed help with the TeX formatting language can be found at Wikipedia:TeX. A "cheat sheet" with examples you can copy-and-paste can be found at meta:Help:Displaying a formula.

Example Boxes[edit]

The text is littered with example calculations, like the one below. The format is a table surrounded by a two-pixel solid blue border. Use the editing box to cut/paste this into the page that you are editing in order to create a new one in the same style. Simply edit the example number, question and solution text. Example boxes are not indented. They frequently contain math equations, though.

Example 15
To what volume must 5.00 mL of 6.00M HCl be diluted to make the concentration 0.100M?

This does not mean that 300 mL of water must be added, but that the total volume of solution must be brought up to 300 mL


Fig. 2-3 Schematic diagram of an acid-base titration showing the position of the burette and the color change expected at the end point of the titration.

To insert a figure, first copy/paste it from the original PDF image into your favorite graphics program. Resize and crop it to be approximately 3 inches wide at 72 dpi resolution (216 pixels), maintaining the original aspect ratio. Save it as a JPG file.

Upload the image to wikibooks using the "Upload file" link on the wikibooks navigation bar (under Tools):

  • Use the naming convention ChemicalPrinciplesFig2-3.jpg (for the 3rd figure in Chapter 2)
  • You should provide the following information in the Summary box on the upload page. (If the figure comes from some other source, follow the instructions on the Upload File page for indicating attribution and permission.)
 |Description=Schematic diagram of an acid-base titration
 |Author=Dickerson, Gray and Haight
 |Permission=used with the explicit written permission of the author
  • Choose the Creative Commons 3.0 license

On the wikibook page, use the following example to link to the image, create a frame, bind the frame to the right margin, and include a caption:

[[Image:ChemicalPrinciplesFig2-3.jpg|frame|right|'''Fig. 2-3''' Schematic diagram of an acid-base 
titration showing the position of the burette and the color change expected at the end point 
of the titration.]]