Project Details Basic Guidelines to the Nomenclature of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 November 2010
End Date:
Division Name:
Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation
Division No.:


To disseminate throughout the scientific community authoritative guidelines as two short, handy and easily assimilated guides to the basic principles of inorganic and organic-chemical nomenclature, respectively.

!! LATEST RELEASE !! Download version 1.3 of the Brief guide to the nomenclature of inorganic chemistry (29 Nov 2017) PDF  – 1 MB

See Progress tab for available translations


Most chemists and scientists of closely related areas are aware that using nomenclature approved by IUPAC enhances the precise exchange of scientific information. However, as technical and copy editors of journals know, IUPAC recommendations could be adopted more widely.

This project will prepare a concise 2- or 4-page document for each of organic and inorganic chemistry which will act as a basic guide to students and authors publishing in scientific journals. These documents will not be a summary of all rules; rather they will explain the most commonly applied rules in a condensed and concise way. Since this project will be a republication of a selection of rules from existing IUPAC recommendations, this will be a short-term project, hopefully to be completed within the International Year of Chemistry. The principal difficulties will be determination of just which rules really are necessary to communicate the essentials of chemical nomenclature and development of a clear and attractive presentation of the material.
The guidelines will include:

  1. the important terminology used when naming chemical compounds;
  2. locants, seniority considerations, the use of enclosing marks and italics, etc.;
  3. a concise explanation of the different nomenclature types;
  4. hyper-links to relevant IUPAC documents.

Journals and society magazines publishing in chemistry and related sciences will be encouraged to (1) incorporate hard copies of the final document in their freely-distributed January issues and (2) give permanent web links to the document, which in turn will provide reference to the detailed relevant IUPAC documents. The documents would be available for separate printing by IUPAC, in card or flyer form, as required.


– October 2015 update: The brief guide to the nomenclature of inorganic chemistry has been released and published in Pure Appl. Chem. 87(9-10), 1039-1049 (2015). The online version of this article ( offers as supplementary material a four-sided document readily available for inclusion in textbooks and similar publications. A reprint is available as a detachable center fold in Chem. Int. Sep 2015.


– June 2016 update: Version 1.1 of the Brief Guide to the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (27 June 2016) with updated links is available;
— A4 size: download here as pdf – 928 KB – see update V1.3 below 
— A3 size: booklet format for double-sided printing on A3 paper is also available for download here as pdf- 4.5MB. (Please note the extra margin (o.2 mm) required for printing.)
— A0 poster:  downloaded here as pdf – 4.7 MB (Please note the extra margin (0.5 mm) required for printing.) – see update V1.3 below

Translations of the Brief Guide are available in several languages:
– Basque: download here as pdf – 333 KB
– Danish: download here as pdf – 896 KB
– Dutch: download here as pdf – 2 MB
– French: download here as pdf – 891 KB or online
– Galician: download here as pdf – 252 KB
– Spanish: download here as pdf – 556 KB
– Watch this space! (Translations into further languages are in preparation)

– Nov 2017 update: Version 1.3 of the Brief Guide to the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (29 Nov 2017) is available;
— A4 size: download here as pdf file – 1 MB
— A0 poster:  downloaded here as pdf – 5.1 MB (Please note the extra margin (0.5 mm) required for printing.)


A draft of the Brief Guide to the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry has been completed and will soon be released …

Page last update 27 Feb 2019