What Is a Skeletal Structure?

Folinic acid


A skeletal structure is a graphical representation of the arrangement of atoms and bonds in a molecule.

2-D and 3-D Arrangements

Skeletal structures are shown in two dimensions where element symbols are used for the atoms and solid lines to represent bonds between them. Multiple bonds are represented by multiple solid lines. ​Double bonds are shown with two lines and ​triple bonds are shown with three lines.

Carbon atoms are implied when two bonds meet and no atom is listed. Hydrogen atoms are implied when the number of bonds is less than four on a carbon atom. Hydrogen atoms are shown if they are not bonded to a carbon atom.

3-D arrangements are represented by solid and hashed wedges. Solid wedges imply bonds coming towards the viewer and hashed wedges are bonds pointing away from the viewer.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is a Skeletal Structure?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/skeletal-structure-chemistry-definition-603585. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 27). What Is a Skeletal Structure? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/skeletal-structure-chemistry-definition-603585 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is a Skeletal Structure?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/skeletal-structure-chemistry-definition-603585 (accessed February 2, 2023).