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The Lewis Electron-Dot Symbols of Elements

Gilbert N Lewis is widely known for his use of simple symbolic representations of
elements that show valence electrons as dots. You've seen the Bohr's diagram for the
first 18 elements. Sometimes it is more convenient to represent the elements by its
Lewis electron dot symbol. It is not to say one is better than the other. The Bohr
diagrams show arrangement of all the electrons.

The Lewis electron-dot symbols focus on the electrons in the highest principal energy
level in the atom, the valence electrons. After all, these are the electrons that
participate in chemical reactions. Lewis electron-dot symbols work well for
the representative elements.

A Lewis symbol is a symbol in which the electrons in the valence shell of an atom or
simple ion are represented by dots placed around the letter symbol of the element.
Each dot represents one electron.

Hydrogen

Oxygen

Chlorine

Chloride ion

How To Draw the Lewis Structure For an


Element
Use the following rules to write electron-dot symbols of elements:

1. Write the symbol for the element. The symbol represents the nucleus and the
inner or for the element. There are four sides surrounding the symbol.

2. Determine the number of valence electrons for the element. Use a dot to
represent an electron.
3. Assign a dot to each side of the symbol up to a maximum of four valence
electron.

1 valence electron 2 valence electrons 3 valence electrons 4 valence electrons

4.

5. (Helium is an exception, with both valence electrons paired up on the same side
of the symbol.)

6. For assigning more than 4 valence electrons, start pairing up electrons on the
four sides to a maximum of eight electrons.

5 valence electrons 6 valence electrons 7 valence electrons 8 valence electrons

7.

8. The number of dots you have around the symbol represents the actual number
of valence electrons for the element.