Rules for Naming Ionic Compounds Containing Polyatomic Ions
Polyatomic ions are ions which consist of more than one atom. For example, nitrate ion, NO3-, contains one nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms. The atoms in a polyatomic ion are usually covalently bonded to one another, and therefore stay together as a single, charged unit.

Rule 1. The cation is written first in the name; the anion is written second in the name.

Rule 2. When the formula unit contains two or more of the same polyatomic ion, that ion is written in parentheses with the subscript written outside the parentheses.

    Note: parentheses and a subscript are not used unless more than one of a polyatomic ion is present in the formula unit (e.g., the formula unit for calcium sulfate is "CaSO4" not "Ca(SO4)").

Rule 3. If the cation is a metal ion with a fixed charge, the name of the cation is the same as the (neutral) element from which it is derived (e.g., Na+ = "sodium"). If the cation is a metal ion with a variable charge, the charge on the cation is indicated using a Roman numeral, in parentheses, immediately following the name of the cation (e.g., Fe3+ = "iron(III)").

Rule 4. If the anion is a monatomic ion, the anion is named by adding the suffix -ide to the root of the element name (e.g., I- = "iodide").

Note: Greek prefixes are not used to indicate the number of atoms, or polyatomic ions, in the formula unit for the compound (e.g., Ca(NO3)2 is named "calcium nitrate" not "calciuim dinitrate").