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Physics LibreTexts

2: Electrostatic Potential

All we have done so far is to define the potential difference between two points. We cannot define “the” potential at a point unless we arbitrarily assign some reference point as having a defined potential. It is not always necessary to do this, since we are often interested only in the potential differences between point, but in many circumstances it is customary to define the potential to be zero at an infinite distance from any charges of interest. We can then say what “the” potential is at some nearby point. Potential and potential difference are scalar quantities.