Primer on Significant Figures

An Analytical Balance

An Analytical Balance Typically Supports Precision Up To A 10th of a Milligram or 4 significant figures when reporting in grams.

If you’ve ever been flummoxed by the concept of ‘significant figures’ then this primer will be a good refersher course.  Significant figures when measuring in the lab are important to determine the degree of precision with which you would want to report your findings.  For example, our Kern analytical balance which supports precision to tenth of a milligram can produce results up to 0.0001 grams.  The article also highlights another important issue when working with calculators. Normal calculators can report up to 7 significant figures. The student is cautioned not to get carried away but to restrict the answer to those number of significant figures as required.

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About Bob Sandor

Bob began working as a chemist in 1987 and remains a science geek to this day. After his PhD he worked on the bench in materials and inorganic chemistry for 10 years. He then took on a love for marketing and sales. He combined his passion for science and business and took entrepreneur general management positions in large corporations like Hoecsht Celanese now Sanofi Aventis, Bel-Art and Smiths Detection. There he learned what it would take to run a business and finally Tovatech was co-founded in 2006. Bob’s hobbies include playing, listening and composing music, skiing, working out, the internet and all things science. Read More