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hemistry: Significant DigitsName__________________________
Hr____ Date __________
1. Significant numbers are always measurements and thus should always be accompanied by the
measurement’s unit. For simplicity, units are not included in the following examples.
2. Any numbers (that are measurements) other than zero are significant. (Many times the zeros are also
significant as you will see below.) Thus 123.45 contains five significant digits.
3. Any zeros between numbers are significant, thus 1002.05 contains six significant digits.
4. Unless told differently, all zeros to the left of an understood decimal point (a decimal that is not printed)
but to the right of the last number are not significant. The number 921000 contains three significant
5. Any zeros to the left of a number but to the right of a decimal point are not significant.
921000. has six significant digits.
6. These zeros are present merely to indicate the presence of a decimal point (they are used as place
holders), (these zeros are not part of the measurement). The number 0.00123 has three significant
digits. The reason that these zeros are not significant is that the measurement 0.00123 grams is
equal in magnitude to the measurement 1.23 milligrams. 1.23 has three significant digits, thus
0.0123 must also have three significant digits.
7. Any zeros to the right of a number and the right of a decimal point are significant. The value 0.012300
and 25.000 both contain five significant digits. The reason for this is that significant figures indicate to
what place a measurement is made. Thus the measurement 25.0 grams tells us that the
measurement was made to the tenths place. (The accuracy of the scale is to the tenths place.)