Color Books

The IUPAC Color Books are the world’s authoritative resource for chemical nomenclature, terminology, and symbols. Terminology definitions published by IUPAC are drafted by international committees of experts in the appropriate chemistry sub-disciplines, and ratified by IUPAC’s Interdivisional Committee on Terminology, Nomenclature and Symbols (ICTNS). The books in this series are as follows:

Chemical Terminology (Gold book)

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  • The IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology is the definitive guide to chemical terminology; it now contains more than 7000 entries, is easy to browse, search, and navigate.

  • This book provides a readable compilation of widely used terms and symbols from many sources together with brief understandable definitions. Full text pdf with with bookmark by chapters and sections is available. (Green Book PDF Version 2011)

  • The ‘Red Book’ clarifies and continues to update recommendations concerning the names and formulae of inorganic compounds and reflects major recent developments in inorganic chemistry.
  • A Brief guide to the nomenclature of inorganic chemistry has been published in PAC 87(9-10), pp.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. Check here for latest update and translations.

  • HTML reproduction of the IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry has been prepared by Advanced Chemistry Development, Inc and is searchable on the ACD website <>. The most recent hardback edition has been published by RSC in December 2013. See corresponding project.

  • The second edition of the IUPAC Compendium of Polymer Terminology and Nomenclature (IUPAC Recommendations 2008) is an expansion and revision of the 1991 edition and contains 22 chapters. This new edition continues the significant contribution to clear and precise communication in polymer science made by its predecessor.
  • A Brief guide to polymer nomenclature has been published in PAC 84(10), pp 2167-2169 (2012). A two-sided document readily available for reprint is available from project/2008-032-1-400.

  • The Orange Book last published in 1998 is now in the process of revision; see project 2012-005-1-500 for details.
  • A Web edition of the IUPAC Compendium on Analytical Nomenclature (3rd Edition) provides ease of access to the extensive information contained in its recommendations. Online access to the Orange Book.

  • The Biochemical Nomenclature and Related Documents (1992) presents IUPAC-IUBMB (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Joint Commissions’ recommendations; it includes sections on amino acids, peptides and proteins, enzymes, nucleotides, nucleic acids and protein synthesis, carbohydrates, lipids, etc.

Principles of Chemical Nomenclature

  • The Principles of Chemical Nomenclature: A Guide to IUPAC Recommendations, 2011 RSC [ISBN 978-1-84973-007-5]
    This edition of Principles of Chemical Nomenclature was published on 25 November 2011 and edited by G.J. Leigh. Like the first edition of 1998, it is directed towards teachers and students of chemistry in schools and universities, but it should be equally useful to people such as government officials concerned with customs and taxation who need some acquaintance with chemical names, but generally have little knowledge of chemistry. It is a valuable introduction to all other color books, Red, Blue, and Purple.