The IUPAC nomenclature system

There is an official naming system, IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and their official website is at: .

The IUPAC system is designed so that the name is derived from the chemical structure, and therefore also allows one to derive the structure of the chemical from the name.

IUPAC publish an introductory book on the overall nomenclature system, 2011 edition, available to buy from: .

They also publish a detailed guide to inorganic chemicals, with naming advice and recognised names, known as the IUPAC Red Book, latest edition 2005, available to buy from:  (note this on Amazon USA, and does not seem to be available in the UK.  There is also a pdf document with a brief guide to IUPAC inorganic nomenclature from 2016, downloadable for free from

Organic chemicals are covered in detailed naming guide, which includes a list of recognised IUPAC names, known as the IUPAC Blue Book.  The latest edition is 2013, available to buy from: .  The previous edition, from 1993, and the first edition from 1979, are both available to search online for free at .

IUPAC also publish a number of other “colour” books, as follows:

Note that the UN also publish “colour” named books, e.g. the UN Orange Book for ADR, and the UN Purple Book for GHS, so if you are purchasing any “colour” named books please make sure they are the correct version.

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