Standard form

Explore how to use standard form to represent very large and very small numbers

Standard form, or standard index form, is a system of writing numbers which can be particularly useful for working with very large or very small numbers. It is based on using powers of 10 to express how big or small a number is.

Standard form is written in the form of \(a \times 10^n\), where \(a\) is a number bigger than or equal to 1 and less than 10.

\(n\) can be any positive or negative whole number.

For example \(3.1 × 10^{12}\)

Scientists use standard form when working with the speed of light and distances between galaxies, which can be enormous. The size of bacteria or atoms may also be referred to in standard form as they are so tiny. Standard form is also sometimes referred to as scientific notation.

Small and large measurements