Project Details Definitions and Notations Relating to Stereochemical Aspects in Polymer Science

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 March 2010
End Date:
16 October 2020
Division Name:


To disseminate throughout the scientific community authoritative guidelines on how to unambiguously specify the stereochemical properties of macromolecules which comply with all current IUPAC documents.


During the last decades several conflicting, if not contradictory systems for the description of the absolute and relative configuration of macromolecules have been used in the literature, while the need and importance of a clear description have grown. Some of the issues were addressed nearly thirty years ago in an IUPAC document with recommendations on the stereochemical description of polymers [Pure Appl. Chem. 53, 733-752 (1981); doi:10.1351/pac198153030733]. However, some of the definitions provided in this document are not consistent with definitions for the same terms and descriptors in organic chemistry. Furthermore, in the meantime stereochemistry has undergone tremendous development, both in polymer science and in organic chemistry. It is therefore necessary to revise and update the said document in the light of current IUPAC recommendations as well as recent scientific developments.

This project will result in the preparation of a comprehensive document which will
1. provide the relevant important terminology,
2. be a basic guide on stereochemical description of polymers to the scientific community,
3. highlight common misunderstandings of the different approaches used hitherto,
4. remove inconsistencies in recommendations which have been published at different times, and
5. where possible provide a concordance of formerly used terms and descriptors and classify these into preferred, acceptable and not acceptable.


July 2010 – project announcement published in Chem. Int. Jul-Aug, p. 20

May 2016 update – Following a long period during which little progress had been made, it was decided (again) at the meeting in Busan, Korea to end the current project by publishing either a corrigendum and addendum to the current purple book document or a minimally revised document which addresses the major deficiencies identified in the purple book document but which does not add new material. Drafts covering both possibilities have been prepared and circulated and are awaiting feedback to decide which option to pursue. A complete revision of the Stereochemical document should be the topic for a new project.

September 2019 update – The provisional recommendations titled “Definitions and notations relating to tactic polymers” is available for public review till 31 January 2020.

October 2020 update – REC published:  Fellows, C. M., Hellwich, K., Meille, S. V., Moad, G., Nakano, T., & Vert, M. (2020). Definitions and notations relating to tactic polymers (IUPAC Recommendations 2020), Pure and Applied Chemistry (AOP 2 Oct 2020);

project completed

Page last updated 16 Oct 2020