Recently, I am interested with home materials and I discover that the chemical symbol for MSG or monosodium glutamate is $\ce{C5H8NO4Na}$. My problem is shouldn't it be $\ce{NaC5H8NO4}$ as we always write the metal first before the non-metal?


It should, but in organic molecules salts, often the counterion is written latter, to indicate its position on the molecule acting like so, for example, in sodium acetate, $\ce{CH3CO2Na}$, this would be something like a "semicondensated" formula.

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    $\begingroup$ Agreed. Usually the organic (carbon containing) part of the molecule is written in the Hill notation and the counter ion added to the end. Usually this is done, because it makes ordering in a Database easier. Note that the correct Hill formula for MSG would be $\ce{C5H8NNaO4}$. Compare to Sigma-Aldrich Data Sheet $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Nov 19 '14 at 9:16

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