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Paulings electronegativity is a relative scale, based on the difference in electronegativity between X and Y, $\Delta EN = 0.102 \sqrt {\Delta}$, where $\Delta = (X-Y)_{measured}-(X-Y)_{theoretical}$ bond energies.

But what is the oxidation state of X and Y? Is it an average of the common oxidation states for each element, or is it simply the most common oxidation state? Or do I have it all wrong to begin with?

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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia Electronegativity article has a section dedicated to this issue. A single valued EN, whatever defined, it is a simplification nevertheless good in many instances. It is expected that one comes here when something isn't clear or covered by very easy to find and more or less reputed sources. $\endgroup$ – Alchimista May 20 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I can tell, the wikipedia article only mentions that EN changes with oxidation state, and that Allred Rochow calculated some EN-values based on averages of some transition metals. I can't find anything about what oxidation state Linus Pauling himself used for his EN-values.. $\endgroup$ – Quantonium May 20 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Basically a value for each oxidation states he deal with. But the article should satisfy your question nevertheless. There is no a periodic table electronegativity in reality. Yet, that or other derived values proved useful. $\endgroup$ – Alchimista May 20 at 13:15

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