Forces and Motion

Writing vectors and scalars

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

How to show something is a vector

Teacher Tip: If some quantity is a vector, we'd suggest using an explicit notation to make that very clear. So we'd suggest x instead of just writing the vector in a bold or italic face.

So acceleration is shown to be a vector by writing a.

And velocity is shown to be a vector by writing v.

In this way you'll help to keep separate scalars and vectors in students' minds.

You'll also be using something that they can mimic, and so help clarify their own thinking, when expressing ideas for themselves.

Teacher Tip: Vectors: acceleration, a; velocity, v; displacement, d.

Scalars: speed; distance; mass.

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