# Difference between revisions of "The order of terms matters even when they commute"

When writing an expression that consists of several terms, the conventions regarding their order appear arbitrary.

## Multiplication

It is usual to write:

People sometimes rearrange a sum to avoid a leading unary minus, even when this contradicts the convention of writing terms in decreasing order of degree:

$1 - x$

$-x + 1$

## Polynomials

When writing a polynomial on its own, the usual convention is to write the terms in decreasing order of degree:

$x^3 - 32x^2 + 3x -1$

But for a series expansion, where higher-order powers are often omitted, it makes more sense to start with the lowest-degree term:

$-1 + 3x - 32x^2 + x^3$