Although for many purposes it is convenient to think of a magnet as having distinct north and south magnetic poles, the concept of poles should not be taken literally: it is merely a way of referring to the two different ends of a magnet. The magnet does not have distinct north or south particles on opposing sides. If a bar magnet is broken into two pieces, in an attempt to separate the north and south poles, the result will be two bar magnets, each of which has both a north and south pole.
However, a version of the magnetic-pole approach is used by professional magneticians to design permanent magnets. In this approach, the divergence of the magnetization ∇•M inside a magnet and the surface normal component M•n are treated as a distribution of magnetic monopoles. This is a mathematical convenience and does not imply that there are actually monopoles in the magnet. If the magnetic-pole distribution is known, then the pole model gives the magnetic field H (see also Demagnetizing field). Outside the magnet, the field B is proportional to H, while inside the magnetization must be added to H(see Units and calculations). An extension of this method that allows for internal magnetic charges is used in theories of ferromagnetism (see micromagnetics).