Chemistry Formulas

Condensed Structural Formula

Condensed Structural Formula is basically a system in which we write organic molecules in a line of text. We basically write them in shorthand notation containing more detail than the molecular formula. However, it is important to note, that the condensed structural formula is lesser extended when we compare it to the normal structural formula.

Condensed Structural Formula

In other words, we write it down in simply one line listing the atoms in the order which they occupy in the molecule. Moreover, it will also help in showing the functional groups which are present in the molecule.

In other words, the use of amine -NH2, alcohol -OH and parenthesis is done to show that polyatomic groups are part of the same chain. For instance, the condensed structural formula of methane is CH4 and propanol is CH3 (CH2)2OH.

Thus, we can say that in condensed structural formula, every carbon atom is signified individually. Moreover, the following carbon atoms are positioned to the atoms which bond to that specific carbon atom. Similar to a chemical reaction in which the first carbon atom consists of 3 hydrogen atoms bonded, the second carbon atom has 2 hydrogen atoms, the third carbon atom has 3 hydrogen atoms, and fourth carbon atom has 3 hydrogen atoms.

Similarly, another more condensed method of writing structural formula is when there are 2 CH2 groups in the middle of the molecule which have (CH2)2 in the middle of the structural formula.


In order to avoid any confusion or so, it becomes essential to differentiate between the 3 types of formulas in organic chemistry.

  1. Molecular formula (it displays the number of atoms of each element) C5H12O
  2. The condensed structural formula (demonstrates all the atoms nonetheless acknowledge vertical bonds plus polyatomic groups are inside parenthesis)Condensed Structural Formula
  3. The structural formula (illustrates all the bonds)

Thus, we see that the condensed structural formula also uses lines between bonded atoms. However, it is a simpler and shorter way to draw the line-bond structural formula as it overlooks the carbon and hydrogen bonds. One can see this when comparing the line-bond structural formula with the condensed structural formula.


It is particularly beneficial to show the functional groups of a molecule. In fact, the functional groups are the ones responsible to give the chemical and physical characteristics to all the molecules. This is so that a chemist can use the knowledge of the number and type of functionality of these groups to estimate the behaviour of compounds.

Further, the condensed structural formula also displays the geometry of some molecules. Similarly, it is quite an essential feature in acknowledging the property to chemical compounds.

Solved Example for You

 Question- An unknown alcohol formula has a molecular formula of C3H8O. You need to write down 3 of the possible condensed formulas of this compound.

Answer– C3H8O → isopropanol (CH3)2CHOH → 2-propanol CH3CHOHCH3 → 1-propanol CH3OHCH2CH3


Thus, we see that the condensed structural formula carries importance to describe cases like the ones given above. In which the same molecular formula may lead to more of one structure. Isomers are structures which have a similar number of atoms and mass weight but having different functional groups or with the same but having different positions.

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