Project Details Brief Guide to Polymerization Terminology

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 August 2015
End Date:
Division Name:


The Brief Guide to Polymerization Terminology will produce a short summary of existing documents related to polymerization terminology in a form that is able to be readily disseminated and is publicly accessible by students and researchers. The rationale behind the Brief Guide is that while fully elaborated IUPAC recommendations on polymerization terminology exist, confusion still remains in the field, with many researchers and students using a variety of different terms for the same concept, some of which are incorrect or misleading based on the current understanding of polymerizations. The impact of this project will be to bridge the gulf between IUPAC recommendations and scientific/educational use of terms.


While IUPAC has developed a rich terminology that communicates state-of-the-art, precise understanding of polymerizations, there are relatively few publishing academic scientists who use such terms. This is all the more surprising given the extremely high value of such understanding to the worldwide industrial development of advanced polymer-based materials. The Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology has coined terms that both communicate and encapsulate complex concepts in a self-explanatory manner. All their publications are freely accessible, and can be reprinted in whole without constraint. But few working publishers, scientists, students, industrialists, educators, and authors know where to obtain, how to use, and distribute this work.

This project will address this problem by delivering a short (two-page) document that explains and summarizes the most important terms, and will provide active hyperlinks that will link directly to the original source documents. Liberal use of links to the IUPAC colour books will also be made so that any word that might cause confusion to a novice reader will be clarified. In effect, this short guide will provide a robust stairway for users to quickly gain a working knowledge of the concepts and terminology surrounding polymer chemistry today. This project is now all the more important given the incredible explosion in polymerization techniques over the last twenty or so years, thus requiring correct terminology to distinguish the variant methodologies. This project follows the recently completed and high impact project ‘A brief guide to polymer nomenclature’ Pure Appl. Chem. 84, 2167-2169 (2012) []. The proposed Brief Guide for Polymerizations will follow a similar format.

The terms to be used in the proposed Brief Guide for Polymerizations will be heavily based on recommendations from three projects:

The work will begin by identifying the most important terms described in these two documents/three projects.


Jan 2015 – Project announcement published in Chem. Int. Jan 2016, p. 23;

June 2020 update – The task group met in July 2019 in Paris to create a draft document using the required template for the Brief Guide. Work has continued amongst the TG members since then and so the final framework of the manuscript is now in place albeit too long for it be called a Brief Guide. The plan is to edit the revised and shortened version of the manuscript during a virtual session at the end of June 2020 and for the Brief Guide to be submitted for review by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.

Page last update 28 July 2020