EKG: It's in alphabetical order!

Updated | Posted
by JoseQuinones JoseQuinones Member Nurse

Has 5 years experience.

Did you realize EKG letters were alphabetical?

  1. 1. Did you realize EKG letters were alphabetical?

    • 58
      Um, yeah José. Isn't that obvious?
    • 9
      Wow. I never saw that before.
    • 5
      Yes, they covered this in class.
    • 5
      I don't see how this is helpful.

41 members have participated


This might sound like the biggest "duh!" you have ever heard in your life, but today I slapped my forehead and noticed it for the first time. The letters of the normal sinus rhythm, P-QRS-T-U are in alphabetical order. That's how you know if they are in the right sequence, or if one of them is missing! This knowledge makes it easier to memorize basic sine rhythm and a few of its variants, although it may not help with some of the really crazy dysrhythmias.

I can't be the first person to notice this little factoid, and it couldn't be accidental. Why is it that no one mentioned it in class? Or in the dozens of videos I've watched on YouTube? Or the websites, EKG games, or NCLEX practice test banks? My Med-Surg textbook says "the letters are arbitrary" and must be simply memorized.

Does this help anyone else?



739 Posts

Hahahahaha...I am currently working as a MT and this made me laugh! Silly!:D But glad you figured it out and it now makes sense to you. Thanks for sharing!

missmollie, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Neuroscience. Has 4 years experience. 869 Posts

I think it's great that you had an epiphany about the letters of an ECG. I hate to break it to you, this new knowledge is not going to help you understand Cardio any better. Knowing what they represent and any changes that can occur will lead to success.

PQRSTU is arbitrary. If they were named after colors, it wouldn't make cardio any easier, promise. Best of luck studying the heart and ECG's.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 42 years experience. 4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Every one has that ...Well look at that...duh :facepalm:...moment! Good for you!


classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator. 2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

I got that one ok. But when we were learning to suction trachs I just could not understand the process. Then someone referred to it as "vacuuming", not suctioning. My AHAH moment.



115 Posts

If you have any epiphanies about easier ways to understanding EKGs threw 'em this way! I can never get the info to stick in my head..prolongs pr, elevated ST, etc. Drives me nuts sometimes! :unsure:

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience. 44 Articles; 260 Posts

There is a ton of videos on youtube, but i think this one is helpful for some of the basics:

Just browse around on youtube - you can find almost anything!


firstinfamily, RN

Has 33 years experience. 790 Posts

Ya know, sometimes it takes eons for things to make sense!! Those little squiggly lines just keep mystifying all of us!!

Vana21, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cath Lab. Has 6 years experience. 83 Posts

A tip I learned when I was learning to be a monitor tech

wide is bad

and they're so wide they look like a V

and those rhythms come from the (V)entricles


classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator. 2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Also, hospitals now have STEMI codes and many have STEMI Coordinators (to train and monitor codes and other duties). STEMI of course refers to S-T elevated Myocardial Infarction. If you don't know what S-T is, you don't know what that code is being called for. I think nursing is a lot like the military -- loads of acronyms