Project Details Standard definitions of terms relating to mass spectrometry

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 March 2004
End Date:
01 August 2013


To update and extend the definitions of terms related to the field of mass spectrometry.


Widely accepted standard definitions of terms are necessary for clear communication in the discussion and dissemination of results. This is particularly important for multidisciplinary fields such as mass spectrometry. During the last decade of the 20th century, the field of mass spectrometry has seen a revolutionary change in practice and scope. The introduction of soft ionization methods for the analysis of biological molecules has expanded the scope of mass spectrometry from its early roots in the analysis of inorganic and organic species into the fields of biology and medicine. This expansion in scope and length of time since the last update of standard terms and definitions make it important to undertake a revision of these terms at this time.

Definitions of terms for mass spectrometry is under the purview of IUPAC Analytical Chemistry Division (Division V). The most recent edition of these terms and definitions can be found in Chapter 12 of the Compendium of Analytical Nomenclature (“Orange Book“), prepared in 1993, with addenda in 1993 and 1994. The goal of this project is to update these terms and definitions in close conjunction with the mass spectrometry journals, national mass spectrometry societies, and the International Mass Spectrometry Society.

Sources of mass spectrometry nomenclature that will be reviewed include, the Orange Book, Price, P., “Standard Definitions of Terms Relating to Mass Spectrometry,” J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 1991, 2, 336-348, David Sparkman, “Mass Spectrometry Desk Reference” Global View Publishing, 2000, and various web-based glossaries (,,, etc.)


In March 2004, to facilitate discussion, a website has been set up that has links to on-line versions of the current terminology and discussion forums for comments and suggestions.

The site is in the user editable Wiki format and has information related to the project, news and project updates. The current and revised list of terms is posted on the site and can be freely edited and commented upon.

The Project was publicly introduced at the 2004 American Society for Mass Spectrometry meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, 23-27 May 2004. A poster presentation entitled “Updating the List of Terms and Definitions for Mass Spectrometry” was on display all week.

> Nov 2004 report update (pdf file – 13KB)

> May 2006 report update (pdf file – 13KB)

Aug 2006 – A manuscript is being prepared for publication in Pure Appl. Chem. A final document is submitted to public review comments until 31 Jan 2007 ( ../provisional/abstract06/murray_310107.html)

July 2013 – Project complete; Definitions of terms relating to mass spectrometry (IUPAC Recommendations 2013) has been published in Pure Appl. Chem. 2013, Vol. 85, No. 7, pp. 1515-1609;

Last update 25 Sep 2013