Project Details Graphical Representation of Polymer Structures

Project No.:
Start Date:
19 December 2017
End Date:
Division Name:
Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation
Division No.:


This project intends to provide a single and comprehensive set of guidelines for the graphical representation of polymer structures. The recommendations will update and extend the corresponding IUPAC document in Pure. Appl. Chem. 66, 2469-2482 (1994),, and thereby incorporate and complement the work of the IUPAC project 2003-045-3-800 that produced extensive recommendations (but excluded polymers): J. Brecher, K. N. Degtyarenko, H. Gottlieb, R. M. Hartshorn, K.-H. Hellwich, J. Kahovec, G. P. Moss, A. McNaught, J. Nyitrai, W. Powell, A. Smith, K. Taylor, W. Town, A. Williams, A. Yerin, Graphical representation standards for chemical structure diagrams, Pure Appl. Chem. 80(2), 277-410 (2008),


In 1994 the IUPAC Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature published a document on the “graphical representations (chemical formulae) of macromolecules” [Pure. Appl. Chem. 66, 2469-2482 (1994);] which has served a huge number of chemists as basis for their work. Since then a couple of further documents have been published which contain corresponding and additional recommendations for specific kinds of polymers, e.g., the recently published document on modified polymers [Pure. Appl. Chem. 87, 307-319 (2015);].

Besides these documents with different pieces of recommendations, the IUPAC Division VIII task group on graphical representation standards produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for graphical representation of chemical formulae in general [Pure Appl. Chem. 80(2), 277-410 (2008);]. Although this document explicitly excluded considerations of polymers, it has nevertheless implications on the drawing of polymer structures, for two reasons:

– it gives general guidelines on drawing of chemical formulae;
– the 1994 document on polymer formulae explicitly states that “formula representation of constitutional units shall be in accordance with usage in organic and inorganic chemistry”.

The task group will collect and review all of the recommendations on graphical representation published over the years, not only by the Polymer Division and the Division of Nomenclature and Structure Representation, but also by the Chemical Abstracts Service, and take notice of common practices in the literature. The main task will be to unify or reconcile the recommendations for the different kinds of polymer structures but also across disciplines (mainly between polymer and organic chemistry, but also between polymer and inorganic chemistry). Specific emphasis will be on the structural particularities of polymers (e.g. irregularities, known or unknown end-groups, etc.). Necessary changes to existing or former recommendations and practices need to be explained and carefully justified in order to ascertain both a consensus and a set of unambiguous recommendations.


Page last updated 28 Dec 2017