How to Name Ionic Compounds

By eHow Education Editor

Chemistry is one of the tougher subjects in college and high school. So, when you come across a few rules that almost always work, grab and hold onto them. The way to name ionic compounds is a pretty straight forward method you can learn easily.

Start this task by pulling out your reference tools: a chemistry textbook (if you have one) or a good chemistry website (see Resources), a Periodic Table and a table that lists ions of predictable charge.

Assume you have an ionic compound whenever you see a formula with a metal or metals and one or more nonmetals. This is your first giveaway for recognizing ionic compound formulas.

Locate that table mentioned above of elements that form predictable ions in the Resources sections of this article. Look at this table and note how 21 of the main group elements form ions that are logical and easy to remember.

Note that metals lose electrons to form cations and they have a positive charge. Nonmetal anions gain electrons and form anions. Together they form ionic compounds with a neutral charge.

Know that once you learn the rules for the main group ions, you can recognize that a formula is an ionic compound and know how to write the formula if given the element name. You may find it helpful to look up and memorize the exceptions to the above rules. Just as in any field of study, there are exceptions to the rules.

Know that once you learn the rules for the main group ions, you can recognize that a formula is an ionic compound and know how to write the formula if given the element name. There are a few exceptions to these rules that will need to be memorized or looked up.