3 Tutorials that teach Literal Equations
Take your pick:
Literal Equations

Literal Equations


This lesson introduces literal equations and how to write literal equations for other variables.

See More
College Algebra

Do the math.
Our College Algebra Course is only $329.

Sophia's online courses not only save you money, but credits are also eligible for transfer to over 2,000 colleges and universities.*


  • Definition of Literal Equation
  • Formulas as Literal Equations
  • Rewriting Literal Equations

Definition of Literal Equation

A literal equation is an equation that has more than one variable.  In math, we work with literal equations all the time.  For example, the slope–intercept form of a line is a literal equation: y = mx+b.  This is because it has more than one variable. 

Literal equation: an equation with more than one variable


Formulas as Literal Equations

Formulas are common literal equations.  Formulas relate variables together.  For example, we can use a formula to relate the length and width of a rectangle to its area.  We can rewrite formulas to create expressions for other variables in the equation. For example:

Rewriting Literal Equations

We can rewrite literal equations to express other variables by apply inverse operations.  More specifically, we look at what operations are being applied to the variable we wish to isolate, as well as in what order they are being applied.  To isolate the variable, we apply the inverse operations in reverse order. This is shown below with several common formulas: