# NO3- Lewis Structure in 6 Steps (With Images)

So you have seen the above image by now, right?

Let me explain the above image in short.

NO3- (nitrate ion) lewis structure has a Nitrogen atom (N) at the center which is surrounded by three Oxygen atoms (O). There is 1 double bond and 2 single bonds between the Nitrogen atom (N) and each Oxygen atom (O). There are 2 lone pairs on double bonded Oxygen atom (O) and 3 lone pairs on single bonded Oxygen atom (O).

If you haven’t understood anything from the above image of NO3- lewis structure, then just stick with me and you will get the detailed step by step explanation on drawing a lewis structure of NO3-.

So let’s move to the steps of drawing the lewis structure of NO3-.

## Steps of drawing NO3- lewis structure

### Step 1: Find the total valence electrons in NO3- ion

In order to find the total valence electrons in NO3- ion (nitrate ion), first of all you should know the valence electrons present in nitrogen atom as well as oxygen atom.
(Valence electrons are the electrons that are present in the outermost orbit of any atom.)

Here, I’ll tell you how you can easily find the valence electrons of nitrogen as well as oxygen using a periodic table.

Total valence electrons in NO3- ion

→ Valence electrons given by nitrogen atom:

Nitrogen is a group 15 element on the periodic table. [1] Hence the valence electrons present in nitrogen is 5.

You can see the 5 valence electrons present in the nitrogen atom as shown in the above image.

→ Valence electrons given by oxygen atom:

Oxygen is group 16 element on the periodic table. [2] Hence the valence electrons present in oxygen is 6.

You can see the 6 valence electrons present in the oxygen atom as shown in the above image.

Hence,

Total valence electrons in NO3- ion = valence electrons given by 1 nitrogen atom + valence electrons given by 3 oxygen atoms + 1 more electron is added due to 1 negative charge = 5 + 6(3) + 1 = 24.

### Step 2: Select the central atom

For selecting the center atom, you have to remember that the atom which is less electronegative remains at the center.

Now here the given ion is NO3- ion and it contains nitrogen atom (N) and oxygen atoms (O).

You can see the electronegativity values of nitrogen atom (N) and oxygen atom (O) in the above periodic table.

If we compare the electronegativity values of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) then the nitrogen atom is less electronegative.

So here the nitrogen atom (N) is the center atom and the oxygen atoms (O) are the outside atoms.

### Step 3: Connect each atoms by putting an electron pair between them

Now in the NO3 molecule, you have to put the electron pairs between the nitrogen atom (N) and oxygen atoms (O).

This indicates that the nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) are chemically bonded with each other in a NO3 molecule.

### Step 4: Make the outer atoms stable

Now in this step, you have to check the stability of the outer atoms.

Here in the sketch of NO3 molecule, you can see that the outer atoms are oxygen atoms.

These outer oxygen atoms are forming an octet and hence they are stable.

Also, in step 1 we have calculated the total number of valence electrons present in the NO3- ion.

The NO3- ion has a total 24 valence electrons and all these valence electrons are used in the above sketch.

Hence there are no remaining electron pairs to be kept on the central atom.

So now let’s proceed to the next step.

### Step 5: Check the octet on the central atom. If it does not have octet, then shift the lone pair to form a double bond or triple bond.

In this step, you have to check whether the central nitrogen atom (N) is stable or not.

In order to check the stability of the central nitrogen (N) atom, we have to check whether it is forming an octet or not.

Unfortunately, the nitrogen atom is not forming an octet here. Nitrogen has only 6 electrons and it is unstable.

Now to make this nitrogen atom stable, you have to shift the electron pair from the outer oxygen atom so that the nitrogen atom can have 8 electrons (i.e octet).

After shifting this electron pair, the central nitrogen atom will get 2 more electrons and thus its total electrons will become 8.

You can see from the above picture that the nitrogen atom is forming an octet as it has 8 electrons.

Now let’s proceed to the final step to check whether the above lewis structure is stable or not.

### Step 6: Check the stability of lewis structure

Now you have come to the final step in which you have to check the stability of lewis structure of NO3-.

The stability of lewis structure can be checked by using a concept of formal charge.

In short, now you have to find the formal charge on nitrogen (N) atom as well as oxygen (O) atoms present in the NO3 molecule.

For calculating the formal charge, you have to use the following formula;

Formal charge = Valence electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2 – Nonbonding electrons

You can see the number of bonding electrons and nonbonding electrons for each atom of NO3- ion in the image given below.

For Nitrogen (N) atom:
Valence electrons = 5 (because nitrogen is in group 15)
Bonding electrons = 8
Nonbonding electrons = 0

For double bonded Oxygen (O) atom:
Valence electrons = 6 (because oxygen is in group 16)
Bonding electrons = 4
Nonbonding electrons = 4

For single bonded Oxygen (O) atom:
Valence electrons = 6 (because oxygen is in group 16)
Bonding electrons = 2
Nonbonding electrons = 6

From the above calculations of formal charge, you can see that the nitrogen (N) atom has +1 charge while the single bonded oxygen (O) atom has -1 charge.

So let’s keep these charges on the respective atoms of the NO3 molecule.

The +1 and -1 charge from the above sketch gets canceled and the only -1 charge remains in the above sketch, which gives -1 formal charge on the NO3 molecule.

This overall -1 charge on the NO3 molecule is represented in the image given below.

In the above lewis dot structure of NO3- ion, you can also represent each bonding electron pair (:) as a single bond (|). By doing so, you will get the following lewis structure of NO3- ion.

I hope you have completely understood all the above steps.

For more practice and better understanding, you can try other lewis structures listed below.

Try (or at least See) these lewis structures for better understanding: