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Vol. 34 No. 1
January-February 2012

Bookworm | Books and publications hot off the press.
See also www.iupac.org/publications

Principles of Chemical Nomenclature: A Guide to IUPAC Recommendations, 2011 Edition

Royal Society of Chemistry
Cambridge, UK, November 2011
ISBN 978-1-84973-007-5

This new edition of Principles of Chemical Nomenclature was published on 25 November 2011. 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. Such people often need some acquaintance with chemical names, but generally have little knowledge of chemistry, and obviously would be inhibited from using a professional guide such as the IUPAC color books, Red, Blue, and Purple.

This book has a coverage considerably greater than that of the 1998 edition. That book was written by three nomenclature experts, Henri Favre, the late Val Metanomski, and myself. I was the overall editor. It occupies about 130 pages. The new edition is twice as long, due to the wider coverage. Consequently, there are many more authors, 12 in all. Each of these authors is an expert in the selected field of nomenclature. The clash of opinions and the differing practices employed in the nomenclatures used by the different groups of chemists has caused the editor a great deal of work, and the occasional quarrel. However, the five-year struggle is now over,* and the editor and authors may rightly feel proud of their work.

The principal changes between the first and current editions are as follows. The definitions chapter is lengthened and improved; there is an expanded treatment of formulae and especially of stereoformulae; the chapter on the naming of substances has been expanded and replaced by several chapters dealing with various types of nomenclature, such as substitutive and coordination nomenclatures; and the chapters on organometallic compounds and polymers have been rewritten and greatly expanded, as has the chapter on biochemical nomenclature. In addition, there are now chapters detailing types of nomenclature other than that of IUPAC, the naming of boron hydrides, the IUPAC international chemical identifier (InChI), guidelines for drawing chemical structures, and, perhaps most useful of all for many readers, a guide to constructing and deconstructing IUPAC chemical names. This new volume has a full list of appropriate references appended to each chapter, and many attached tables which are of general application, such as one listing trivial and common names and their IUPAC equivalents, and another about 25-pages long giving the names of specified atoms and groups when they are considered to be uncharged, or negatively charged, or positively charged, or cited as ligands.

In attempting to impose a common style upon the writing of 12 authors, I have come to realize that within the IUPAC family of nomenclatures there are inconsistencies that probably would not have been found without an exercise such as the writing of this book, which attempts to cover all areas. For example, words such as ”ending,” ”suffix” and “termination” might be taken by the lay reader to be synonyms. That is not necessarily true for nomenclaturists. The words “configuration” and “stereochemistry” are considered to be almost interchangeable by some, but certainly not by all nomenclaturists. The meaning of the words “ethylene” and “ethene” depends upon the person using the name and the context. Some would claim that they are synonyms, the first form to be discouraged, others that they represent different species. These and related matters will no doubt receive more attention from IUPAC in the future.

*The preparation of this edition was carried out under IUPAC project 2006-029-1-800, initiated in 2007.

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