# Reaction of sulphur and nitric acid

I would like to ask a question about Sulfur in the reaction with Nitric Acid, $\ce{HNO3}$ to produce Sulfuric Acid, $\ce{H2SO4}$

I read that as Nitrogen and Sulfur are reduced and oxidised respectively, the reaction equation can be constructed as follows:

$\ce{S + 6HNO3 -> H2SO4 + 6NO2 + 2H2O}$

Now, when I read an article on wikipedia regarding sulfur, the introductory paragraph states the following:

Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with a chemical formula $\ce{S8}$.

So why is sulfur represented in the equation as $\ce{S}$ and not $\ce{S8}$?

• Because that doesn't make much of a difference. Sure, you may multiply everything by 8, if you'd like. – Ivan Neretin Feb 21 '18 at 21:18
• Just call $\ce{S}$ an empirical formula. Empirical formulas work perfectly well in chemical reaction equations. – Oscar Lanzi Feb 22 '18 at 0:34
• – Nilay Ghosh Feb 22 '18 at 3:30