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Chemical nomenclature

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First page of Antoine Lavoisier's Chymical Nomenclature in English.

A chemical nomenclature is a set of rules for creating a system of names ("nomenclature") for chemicals. This is done so that everyone uses the same name for a chemical. The system used most often around the world today is the one created and developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

The IUPAC's rules for naming chemical compounds are written in a series of books. The system for naming organic compounds is written in the Blue Book.[1][2] The system for naming inorganic compounds is written in the Red Book.[3] A third book, called the Green Book,[4] gives recommendations about the use of symbols for physical quantities. A fourth book, the Gold Book,[5] contains the definitions of many of the technical terms used in chemistry. Similar books exist for biochemistry,[6] analytical chemistry,[7] macromolecular chemistry,[8] and clinical chemistry.[9] The books do not cover everything, however. Shorter recommendations for specific circumstances are published sometimes in the journal Pure and Applied Chemistry.


  1. Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (3rd ed.), London: Butterworths, 1971 [1958 (A: Hydrocarbons, and B: Fundamental Heterocyclic Systems), 1965 (C: Characteristic Groups)], ISBN 0-408-70144-7
  2. Rigaudy, J.; Klesney, S. P., eds. (1979), Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry, IUPAC/Pergamon Press, ISBN 0-08022-3699 . Panico, R.; Powell, W. H.; Richer, J. C., eds. (1993), A Guide to IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Compounds, IUPAC/Blackwell Science, ISBN 0-632-03488-2 . IUPAC, Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation Division. "Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (Provisional Recommendations)". IUPAC.
  3. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (2005). Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 2005). Cambridge (UK): RSC–IUPAC. ISBN 0-85404-438-8. Electronic version (PDF).
  4. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1993). Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry, 2nd edition, Oxford: Blackwell Science. ISBN 0-632-03583-8. Electronic version (PDF).
  5. Compendium of Chemical Terminology, IMPACT Recommendations, 2nd ed., Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications. (1997)
  6. Biochemical Nomenclature and Related Documents, London: Portland Press (1992).
  7. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1998). Compendium of Analytical Nomenclature (definitive rules 1997, 3rd. ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Science. ISBN 0-86542-6155.
  8. Compendium of Macromolecular Nomenclature, Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications (1991).
  9. Compendium of Terminology and Nomenclature of Properties in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, IMPACT Recommendations 1995, Oxford: Blackwell Science, ISBN 0-86542-612-0 .

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