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Chemistry International

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Volume 36, Issue 4


New Edition of the “IUPAC Blue Book”Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry—IUPAC Recommendations and Preferred Names 2013

Published Online: 2014-07-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ci.2014.36.4.22

Prepared for publication by Henri A. Favre and Warren H. PowellRoyal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, December 2013, ISBN: 978-0-85404-182-4

Thirty-four years after the publication of the last full edition of the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry known as the “IUPAC Blue Book,” in 1979, and 20 years after the release of an abridged version also known as the Guide to IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Compounds, in 1993, IUPAC has recently published a comprehensive and revised edition of this key reference.

The ever-increasing number and complexity of known compounds have resulted in a major extension of the Blue Book. New sections cover the naming of new classes of compounds, such as fullerenes, and new nomenclature systems, such as phane. At the same time it became necessary to make chemical nomenclature more systematic in order to increase the number of names with an explicit relationship to the structure of the compound, and so that the reader or listener can more easily and unambiguously identify a chemical species and deduce its structure from the name. The book also includes a range of traditional names, semi-systematic or trivial, retained for a core group of common compounds but to a lesser extent than in the previous edition. One of the most important aspects of this new edition is the inclusion of preferred IUPAC names or PINs. A PIN is a single name selected for a compound from several acceptable alternative unambiguous names.

The need for PINs has long been recognized and its implementation started some 20 years ago. It this respect, the recommendations consolidated and presented in the new Blue Book are valuable both for reference and education purpose.

Over its lengthy preparation, the book was submitted twice for public review by the scientific community, first in 2004 and than again in 2010. In the continuous effort of improving the accuracy of such large book—some 1600 pages—a task group of IUPAC is already compiling typos and errors that inevitably have appeared in the print release. A list of errata is available at www.chem.qmul.ac.uk/iupac/bibliog/BBerrors.html and will also be shared via the publisher’s website. Everyone’s input can be submitted by email to .

Despite these shortcomings, the new Blue Book will be an invaluable source of information for chemists of all fields and the definitive guide for scientists working in all areas involving chemical nomenclature, from academia to industry, for scientific publishers of books, journals, and databases, or even for organizations requiring internationally approved nomenclature in a legal or regulatory environment.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Henry Favre; while a key contributor and main author, Professor Favre passed away in July 2013 during the final stage of the manuscript preparations.



In the review of the book titled Early Days of X-ray Crystallography by A. Authier, the reviewer David Viterbo wrote: “The most relevant omission is represented by the three cursory lines over the ‘prodigious development of the applications of X-ray diffraction,’ which deserved some more attention, considering the number of Nobel awards given for such studies” (Chem Int. May-June 2014, p. 23).

The reviewer reported an omission and the corrected sentence should read: “The most relevant omission is represented by the three cursory lines over the ‘prodigious development of the applications of X-ray diffraction to the study of biological substances,’ that deserved some more attention considering the number of Nobel awards given for such studies.”

About the article

Published Online: 2014-07-17

Published in Print: 2014-07-01

Citation Information: Chemistry International, Volume 36, Issue 4, Pages 22–22, ISSN (Online) 1365-2192, ISSN (Print) 0193-6484, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ci.2014.36.4.22.

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