# Why are electrons written with a proton number?

Why are electrons written as $\require{mhchem}\ce{^{0}_{-1}e}$ when they have no protons, meaning the proton number should be $0$ and not $-1$?

Is it also acceptable to write $\beta$ particles in this manner, such as $\ce{^0_{-1}\beta}$, considering that a beta particles is basically an electron?

• I have never seen an electron written like that – John Rennie Jun 29 '17 at 6:28
• I have seen this in some books, but I am not sure if it is correct to represent electron in this manner. – Mitchell Jun 29 '17 at 6:42
• I can confirm that it's written in almost all textbooks at my level (I'm a high school student). – Pancake_Senpai Jun 29 '17 at 6:46
• Actually, re-reading the textbooks now it seems like beta particles are written like that more than electrons are. Still, beta minus particles are basically just electrons, so the same question arises. – Pancake_Senpai Jun 29 '17 at 6:48
• @JohnRennie I've seen it frequently enough when discussing nuclear reactions. It's definitely a known and established notation in certain circles. – David Z Jun 29 '17 at 6:58

Proton number is really applicable in Chemistry mostly but in Nuclear equations in physics the proton number and charge is essentially the same in representation. Thus as charge is conserved in a nuclear reaction (e.g. during $\beta$ decay) so thus the sum of all the so called 'proton number' that is the charge must be same as both sides of the equation so as electrons and protons have equal magnitude of charge for protons it corresponds to +1 while it is -1 for electrons. Hence, this notation is sometimes used.