There space different varieties of arrowhead notations the are commonly encountered in Chemistry, greatly Organic Chemistry. Every one has actually a certain purpose and cannot be provided interchangeably.

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Few of the most usual ones are:

a) chemical Reaction Arrow

The most typical arrow kind used to show the switch of a reactant come a product is the chemical reaction arrow, likewise known as the forward arrow. The tail that the arrow lies towards the substrate and the head points come the products. It reflects the direction in i m sorry the chemistry reaction proceeds.

The chemical equation of every the basic reactions in chemistry (addition, substitution, displacement, decomposition, etc.) is expressed utilizing the reaction arrow.

Mostly, reagents, catalysts space written above the arrow and the reaction conditions (time, temperature, solvent) written listed below it.


If a reaction takes ar in more than one step, it have the right to be displayed using just one reaction arrow. The successive measures are numbered, the reagents for the reactions room mentioned and also is placed above and below the chemical reaction arrow. 

b) Reversible Reaction Arrow

In front reaction, the reaction react together to provide the products, however in the case of the reversible reaction, the backward or the turning back reaction takes location wherein the commodities formed, again react to give ago the starting material. Both the reactions occur simultaneously, and also there is no complete consumption of the reaction or the products. A reversible reaction arrowhead is, therefore, bidirectional and half headed. The tail end of a reversible reaction arrowhead lies near the reactants, and also the arrowhead always points in the direction of the products.



c) Equilibrium Reaction Arrow

In a reversible reaction, there comes a stage at which the price of the forward and also the reverse reaction is the same. This leader to an equilibrium state. In such a reaction, also on keeping the reaction because that a much longer time to progress, that does not cause any readjust in the concentration of either the reactant or the product. The reaction continues, and also the concentration stays unchanged. The equilibrium reaction arrow is choose the reversible reaction arrow. If the concentration that both the reactant and the product is the same, the arrow is that the exact same length.


Altering the reaction conditions can change the direction of the reaction and the concentration that the substances current in the equilibrium mixture. If the front reaction is favored an ext than the reverse reaction, the is indicated by a much longer forward reaction arrow. Very same is the instance when the turning back reaction is dominant than the forward reaction. 

d) dual Headed Curly Arrow

The electron transfer reactions or the reaction mechanisms in necessary chemistry are displayed using the curly arrows. These arrows have a spearhead (double headed). The activity of the 2 electrons is suggested using a curly arrow. The tail finish of the arrowhead is in ~ the electron-rich atom (nucleophilic center) and also the arrowhead on the electron deficient atom (electrophilic center).


e) FishHook Curly Arrow

The single electron move reaction recognized as the complimentary radical reaction are shown using the fishhook curly arrow. It has half-head (half that a spearhead) and looks like a fishhook. The fishhook curly arrowhead illustrates the movement of one electron that is picked up indigenous the tail and also ends at the arrowhead ~ above the atom transferring the radical/electron. The fishhook arrowhead mostly shows up in pairs.


For example, a homonuclear diatomic molecule Br2­ is make of a two-electron covalent bond. Top top homolytic shortcut cleavage, displayed by making use of the fishhook arrow, the electron are mutual equally in between the two atoms generating two complimentary radicals. 

f) Dashed Arrow

The basic reaction conversion concepts are expressed utilizing a dashed arrow. It is just a proposition. The reaction must be showed experimentally and confirmed. If the reaction was successful, the arrowhead later transforms from dashed to the chemistry reaction arrow in the reaction scheme.


g) The overcome or The broken Arrow

The crossed arrow is offered to show a failed chemistry reaction. It way that the reaction did no yield the preferred product/s. Therefore, a cross authorize is drawn on the reaction arrow or the arrowhead is presented as broken.


h) Resonance Arrow

A two-headed arrowhead is supplied to show the visibility of resonance/mesomerism in a molecule structure. The resonance is the movement of the electrons or the electron delocalization in ~ the structure. The electron delocalization is displayed as a set of frameworks with the resonance arrow separating every structure.


The molecule does not go earlier and forth between these structures but only exists together a resonance hybrid. The resonance structures are largely used to show the security of the molecule because of the electron delocalization the decreases the all at once potential power of the molecule.

In the resonance structures, the electron activity in a clockwise way is displayed with the curly arrows. The place from which the electrons room delocalized repurchase a confident charge and also the location where it is localized acquires a negative charge.

Nowadays, to prevent confusion, the ax delocalization is used rather of resonance, and also the resonance structures are referred to as contributing structures. The collection of structures is now separated by a comma instead of a dual headed resonance arrow. 

i) Retrosynthesis Arrow

The planning of the synthetic of a target molecule is done making use of the retrosynthesis arrow. The arrowhead looks choose a block arrow. That is make of two directly line and also has one single head.

The arrowhead tells you the the product top top the left (tail end) is comprised of the beginning materials on the appropriate (facing the arrowhead). One arrow is used to walk one action backward.


Therefore, during retrosynthesis, the final known product is the starting point, and also its full synthesis should be planned. The target molecule is step-wise damaged down right into smaller pieces theoretically making use of chemistry rules and reasoning; to further analyze the collection of smaller, simpler starting materials and collection of reactions the was forced for its complete synthesis.

j) Rearrangement Reaction arrow

A rearrangement reaction arrowhead looks prefer a chemistry reaction arrowhead but with a loop in the middle. The arrowhead is provided to show the rearrangement reaction in one single step. However the mechanism of the rearrangement reaction is presented in several measures using the curly arrows.


The rearrangement reactions involve shortcut breaking and also the rearrangements developing may it is in intramolecular or intermolecular. 


Other arrowhead Notation types

1) Reflux Reaction Arrow

A solvent supplied in a chemistry reaction is boiled in ~ its boiling allude and is condensed earlier using a water condenser such the its volume remains continuous and over there is no loss because of evaporation. Together a laboratory an approach is recognized as reflux.

A reaction that needs a refluxing condition is denoted utilizing two complete headed arrow pointing in the upward and also the bottom direction. The arrows room written below the reaction arrowhead usually alongside the solvent.


2) orbital Electrons Arrow

The electron current in one atom that is a component of the shell and also a sub-shell is indicated by using an increase or the bottom arrow. One electron is one arrow, either increase or downward facing. The arrows might be drawn as a half-head or a complete head.

When two electrons are part of the same sub-shell, they have actually opposite spins, and also both the upward and the downward arrowhead are drawn side by side. Example, s-orbital electrons. The arrowhead indicates the position of the electron in orbit.


The arrows are provided to display the digital configuration of an atom or in molecular orbital energy level diagrams. 

3) Co-ordinate Covalent bond Arrow

If a bond between two atom in a molecule is a co-ordinate covalent bond where one atom is the donor and also the various other an acceptor, such a shortcut is then shown using an arrow. The base of the arrowhead points to the electron-rich atom, and the arrowhead faces the electron deficient atom that accepts the electron pair.


4) Upward arrow (Gas Evolution)

If the product or the byproduct of a chemistry reaction is a gas and tends come escape from the reaction mixture, the is indicated by making use of an upward facing spearhead arrow. That is written beside the gas product in the chemical reaction equation top top the right-hand side.


5) Downward arrowhead (Precipitate)

If the product or the byproduct of a chemical reaction is an insoluble precipitate, its formation and also deposition are shown using a downward facing spearhead arrow. It is written next to the precipitation product ~ above the right-hand side of the chemical reaction equation.


6) Clockwise and also Anti-Clockwise/ Stereochemical Arrow

A spearhead curly arrowhead is drawn such that it shows clockwise rotation or an anti-clockwise rotation in ~ a stereocenter is offered to indicate the pure configuration in ~ the stereogenic facility in the molecule.

If the rotation that the arrowhead is clockwise, the configuration is labeled ‘R’ (rectus/clockwise), and also if the arrow rotates anti-clockwise, the configuration is labeled ‘S’ (sinister/anti-clockwise).


The direction of the rotation that the arrow is based on a set of rules called as Cahn-Ingold-Prelog naming device that assigns priority to the R- groups around the stereogenic center based on the atom number (Z). Higher the atomic number, greater the priority. 

7) Wavy Arrow

The wavy arrowhead is supplied to display an power emission or a photon of irradiate or an power transfer.

The wavy arrow represents the wave-particle duality the light and electron. The ‘wave’ nature the the photon is displayed as the long wiggling tail the the arrow, and also the ‘particle’ component is the arrowhead transferring one energy unit.


The change from a higher energy state come a lower power state is shown by the arrow facing down. In photochemistry, it to represent a non-radioactive decay.

8) Dipole minute Arrow

If 2 atoms in a covalent bond have actually an electronegativity distinction in the variety of 0.5-2, a dipole is induced in the molecule. The much more electronegative atom traction the electron density in the bond in the direction of itself thereby transferring a partial negative charge (δ -), and the less electronegative atom gets a partial hopeful charge (δ +).

The dipole is a vector quantity and also directional in nature. The shortcut dipole arrowhead is written parallel to the covalent bond. The arrowhead points to the electronegative atom and the tail finish have a integrated + sign that deals with the much less electronegative atom denote the positive terminal of the dipole.

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The result dipole minute of the molecule is also shown utilizing the very same arrow. The result dipole minute is the amount of every the individual bond moment in the molecule. If every the separation, personal, instance bond moments add up, the result Dipole minute is higher. If couple of of the individual bond minute cancels out, the resultant Dipole moment of the molecule is lower.