Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology


The Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology (SPT) has the objectives of establishing internationally-accepted definitions of terms in polymer science and, working in collaboration with IUPAC Division VIII, the development of nomenclature for polymer identification.

SPT provides a worldwide forum at the highest level for the discussion and elaboration of rules that underpin efficient global communication in polymer science. Its recommendations are used in patents, litigation, scientific literature and education, and are followed by the majority of governmental and non-governmental organizations, learned societies, high level institutions, and publishers.


[link to parent Division IV]

In 1952, the Sub-commission on Nomenclature to the IUPAC Commission on Macromolecules published its first recommendations, as detailed in the list of source documents. In 1968 IUPAC formally established the Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature (Commission IV.1), which became the leading nomenclature body in the field of polymers. In 2002 the Commission became the Subcommittee on Macromolecular Terminology, and in 2005 was renamed the Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology. As well as being tasked with establishing terminological rules and definitions, the Subcommittee also advises the Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation Division (VIII) on the development of polymer nomenclature.

As the former Commission, rules were developed for naming regular single-strand macromolecules, copolymer molecules, irregular macromolecules, ladder and spiro macromolecules, and nonlinear and network polymers. Rules for representing the structures of macromolecules were also developed. Latterly, while still addressing issues of polymer nomenclature, the Subcommittee has worked to standardize the terminology used in polymer science. Amongst other topics, it has developed a glossary of basic terms, and made recommendations concerning the terminology of assemblies of polymer molecules and non-linear macromolecules, polymer solutions, polymer crystals, types of polymerization, kinetics and thermodynamics of polymerization, degradation and aging of polymers, and the mechanical behavior of polymers.

Since its inception, the Subcommittee has attracted the participation of exceptional scientists from academia, publishing houses, and the polymer industry. Please see the History of the Macromolecular Nomenclature and Terminology in IUPAC for more information.

Current Projects

Meeting Minutes

  • Virtual meeting, 29 June – 2 July 2020 – full text (pdf – 1.3 MB)
  • Paris, France, 5-12 July 2019 – full text (pdf – 1 MB)
  • Cairns, Australia, 26-29 June 2018 – full text (pdf – 1 MB)
  • São Paulo, Brazil, 10-13 July 2017 – full text (pdf – 683 KB)
  • Istanbul, Turkey, 12-15 July 2016 – full text (pdf – 1.1 MB)
  • Busan, Korea, 10-14 August 2015 – full text (pdf – 1.5 MB)
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand, 29 June – 3 July 2014 – full text (pdf – 1.1 MB)
  • Istanbul, Turkey, 11-14 August 2013 – full text (pdf – 433 KB)
  • Roanoke, USA, 18-21 June 2012 – full text (pdf – 2.8 MB)
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, 31 July – 3 August 2011 – full text (pdf – 1.85 MB)
  • Glasgow, Scotland, 6-9 July 2010 – full text (pdf – 677 KB)
  • Rio de Janeiro, 11-14 July 2006 – full text (pdf – 75 KB)
  • Beijing, China, 15-18 August 2005 – full text (pdf – 170 KB)
  • Bordeaux, France, 28 June – 1 July 2004 – full text (pdf – 260 KB)
  • Ottawa, Canada, 11-14 August 2003 – full text (pdf – 80 KB)
  • Brisbane, Australia, 29 June – 4 July 2001, as Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature – full text (pdf – 268 KB)
  • Berlin, Germany, 7-19 August 1999, as Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature – full text (pdf – 158 KB)
  • Sydney, Australia, 19-22 July 1998, as Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature – full text (pdf – 216 KB)

Most recent meeting: 2020 – All over the world (virtual zoom meeting)

2019 – France

SPT met in Paris, France during the IUPAC General Assembly  on 8–11 July 2019 to develop new projects and carry out its mission in developing terminology and nomenclature.

See HERE for more records about past meetings.


The “Purple Book
The second edition of the ‘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.
IUPAC. Compendium of Polymer Terminology and Nomenclature: IUPAC Recommendations 2008 (the “Purple Book”). Prepared for publication by R. G. Jones, J. Kahovec, R. Stepto, E. S. Wilks, M. Hess, T. Kitayama, W. V. Metanomski, with advice from A. Jenkins and P. Kratochvíl, RSC Publishing, Cambridge, UK (2008).

Brief Guide
A short summary of IUPAC documents with hyperlinks to the relevant source documents.
IUPAC. ‘A brief guide to polymer nomenclature (IUPAC Technical Report)’, Pure Appl. Chem., 84, 2167 (2012). (Link to project 2008-032-1-400)

Source Documents
A compilation of source documents, freely available in Pure and Applied Chemistry, is provided here.