basic chemistry

Chemical Formula | Difference between Empirical Formula and Molecular Formula – Chemistry Notes

What is Chemical Formula?

The symbolic representation of a compound that shows elements in the compound and also the ratio of their atoms is called chemical formula.

As elements are represented by symbols .

Representation of Elements

Similarly, compounds are symbolically represented by chemical formulas .


Calcium Carbonate = CaCO3

Water = H2O

Sulphuric acid = H2SO4

Benzene = C6H6

Types of Chemical Formulas:

There are different types of chemical formulas of a compound .i.e.. empirical formula, molecular formula ,structural formula etc.

Empirical Formula:

   The chemical formula that gives the simplest or the most reduced whole number ratio of atoms present in a compound is called empirical formula.

Finding Empirical Formula of Benzene

Benzene = CH

(Empirical Formula)

Molecular Formula:

   The chemical formula that gives the actual number of atoms present in one molecule of a compound is called molecular formula.


Molecular formula of Benzene is C6H6

Molecular formula of Glucose is C6H12O6

Why some compounds have same empirical and molecular formula ?

If the compound’s chemical formula can not be reduced any more then  their empirical formula is the same as  molecular formula .

Important questions for Exams !!!

Question 1:

Vinegar is 5% acetic acid . This contains 2 carbon atoms ,  four hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms. Write its empirical and molecular formulas ?


Number of carbon atoms = 2

Number of hydrogen atoms = 4

Number of oxygen atoms = 2

Find out its empirical and molecular formulas


 Molecular formula      = C2H4O2          

Finding Empirical formula  as follow:

 Empirical formula   =   CH2

Question 2:

Caffeine ( C8H10 N4 O2) is found in tea and coffee . Write its empirical formula ?


molecular formula      = C8H10 N4O2 

Find out its empirical formula


Empirical formula   =   C4H5 N2O

Difference b/w Empirical & Molecular Formula:

Empirical Formula Molecular Formula
Simplest or most reduced whole number ratio of atoms
present in a compound

Actual number of atoms present in a molecule
of a compound
Determined directly by different methods
Combustion analysis ,
Elemental analysis.
Can never determined directly, only determined as follow:

Molecular formula = n x (Empirical formula)
Empirical formula is used for all compoundsMolecular formula is used for only molecular compounds
Glucose = CH2O
Water = H2O  
Glucose = C6H12O6
Water = H2O

Significance or Importance of a chemical formula:

i)It is a shorthand Expression

ii) It shows different kinds of elements present in a compound

iii) It shows the ratio of atoms present in a compound

iv) It represents one molecule or one Formula unit of a compound

v) It represents one mole of a compound

vi) It shows the number of atoms present in one molecule

vii) It shows the number of Ions present in one Formula unit

vii) It shows the number of moles of each element in one mole of a compound

For e.g one molecule of Sulphuric acid (H2SO4) contains 2-atoms of H, 1-atom of Sulphur, and 4 – atoms of oxygen. One mole of H2SO=4contains= 2 moles of H, 1-mole of S, and 4-moleOxygen-atoms

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