Isotopes are any of the different types of atoms of the same chemical element, each having a different atomic mass. Isotopes of an element have nuclei with the same number of protons (the same atomic number) but different numbers of neutrons. Therefore, isotopes have different mass numbers, which give the total number of nucleons, the number of protons plus neutrons.
Isotope is better used when referring to several different nuclides of the same element; the term nuclide is more generic and is used when referencing only one nucleus or several nuclei of different elements. For example, it is more correct to say that an element such as fluorine consists of one stable nuclide rather than that it has one stable isotope.
Isotopes and nuclides are specified by the name of the particular element, implicitly giving the atomic number, followed by a hyphen and the mass number (e.g. helium-3, carbon-12, carbon-13, iodine-131 and uranium-238). In symbolic form, the number of nucleons is denoted as a superscripted prefix to the chemical symbol (e.g. 3He, 12C, 13C, 131I and 238U).
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