Literal Numbers

Literal numbers are the letters which are used to represent a number.

The literal numbers are also known as literals. Literal numbers obey all the rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of numbers. Thus,

a + b means b is added to a

a - b means b is subtracted from a

a × b means a is multiplied by b

a ÷ b means a is divided by b


In multiplication, sometimes dot ‘.’ is used instead of ‘×’. The sign ‘.’ or ‘×’ is generally omitted between a digit and a letter or between two or more letters.

For Example:

(i) 5 × a or 5∙a can be written as 5a.

(ii) 10 × p can be written as 10∙p or 10p.

(iii) a × b can be written as a∙b or ab.

(iv) 2 × a × b can be written as 2∙a∙b or 2ab.

(v) a × b × c can be written as a∙b∙c or abc.

(vi) x × y × z can be written as x∙y∙z or xyz.

(vii) 5 × l × m × n can be written as 5∙l∙m.n or 5lmn.

(viii) a × x × y × z can be written as a∙x∙y.z or axyz.

(xi) 10 × j × k × l × m can be written as 10.j.k.l.m or 10jklm.

(x) 1000 × x can be written as 1000.x or 1000x.

But ‘.’ or ‘×’ must never be omitted between the digits.

Thus, 3× 5 can be written as 3∙5, but 3×5 or 3∙5 can never be written as 35.

Now, let us consider the perimeter of a square. We know that the perimeter is equal to the sum of all sides of a square.

Perimeter of a square of side 5 units =(5 + 5 + 5 + 5) units
= 4 × 5 units
= 20 units

Similarly, perimeter of a square of side 10 units = (10 + 10 + 10 + 10) units
= 4 × 10 units
= 40 units

Perimeter of a square of side 20 units = (20 + 20 + 20 + 20) units
= 4 × 20 units
= 80 units and so on.

Thus, we observe that in each case the perimeter is four times the length of its sides. That is,

Perimeter = 4 ×(Length of the side)

If we represent perimeter by P, length of the sides by s, the above statement can be briefly written as

P= 4 × S

The result (or rule) is true for all the system of units and for all possible value of the lengths of the side of the square.

So, from the above discussion that the use of the letters to represent numbers helps us to build formula such as

P = 4 × s, i.e., Perimeter of a square = 4 × length of the side

x × 0 = 0
and, 1 × a = a

Here, P, s, x and a represent numbers.

Also, the use of letters to represent numbers helps to think in more general terms. These letters are generally known as literals.

Important Note:

From now onwards unless, otherwise stated, instead of the saying ‘x represents a number’ we shall simply say ‘x is a number’.

Similarly, for ‘y represents a number’ we shall simply say ’y is a number’, and so on.

Literal Numbers

Addition of Literals

Subtraction of Literals

Multiplication of Literals

Properties of Multiplication of Literals

Division of Literals

Powers of Literal Numbers

Algebra Page

6th Grade Page

From Literal Numbers to HOME PAGE

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below. Ask a Question or Answer a Question.

Didn't find what you were looking for? Or want to know more information about Math Only Math. Use this Google Search to find what you need.

Share this page: What’s this?

Recent Articles

  1. Method of H.C.F. |Highest Common Factor|Factorization &Division Method

    Apr 13, 24 05:12 PM

    HCF by Short Division Method
    We will discuss here about the method of h.c.f. (highest common factor). The highest common factor or HCF of two or more numbers is the greatest number which divides exactly the given numbers. Let us…

    Read More

  2. Factors | Understand the Factors of the Product | Concept of Factors

    Apr 13, 24 03:29 PM

    Factors of a number are discussed here so that students can understand the factors of the product. What are factors? (i) If a dividend, when divided by a divisor, is divided completely

    Read More

  3. Methods of Prime Factorization | Division Method | Factor Tree Method

    Apr 13, 24 01:27 PM

    Factor Tree Method
    In prime factorization, we factorise the numbers into prime numbers, called prime factors. There are two methods of prime factorization: 1. Division Method 2. Factor Tree Method

    Read More

  4. Divisibility Rules | Divisibility Test|Divisibility Rules From 2 to 18

    Apr 13, 24 12:41 PM

    Divisibility Rules
    To find out factors of larger numbers quickly, we perform divisibility test. There are certain rules to check divisibility of numbers. Divisibility tests of a given number by any of the number 2, 3, 4…

    Read More

  5. Even and Odd Numbers Between 1 and 100 | Even and Odd Numbers|Examples

    Apr 12, 24 04:22 PM

    even and odd numbers
    All the even and odd numbers between 1 and 100 are discussed here. What are the even numbers from 1 to 100? The even numbers from 1 to 100 are:

    Read More

Literal Numbers - Worksheets

Worksheet on Addition of Literals

Worksheet on Subtraction of Literals

Worksheet on Multiplication of Literals

Worksheet on Division of Literals

Worksheet on Powers of Literal Numbers