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Chemistry International
Vol. 24, No. 4
July 2002


New Books and Publications

Handbuch für die Systematische Nomenklatur der Organischen Chemie

U. Bünzli-Trepp Metallorganischen Chemie und Koordinationschemie, Logos Verlag, Berlin, 2001. 559 pages, A4 format. (ISBN 3-89722-682-0), EUR 89.50

This book gives a description of organic nomenclature in the German language, and is intended to be used by those who have had at least a few years of chemistry. In the book, Chemical Abstract names are favored, but differences with IUPAC names, when there are any, are pointed out. The book starts with instructions as to its use. In chapter two, one finds an alphabetical list of nomenclature "jargon," richly illustrated with examples; the conventions regarding parentheses and brackets; and a discussion of whether or not vowels are subject to elision in the construction of a name. Chapter three covers the general procedure for naming a compound (priority rules), the different kinds of nomenclature (substitution, addition, etc. ), determination and numbering of the parent compound, and the order of prefixes and substituents. The different parent compounds (acyclic, monocyclic and polycyclic), with and without heteroatoms are introduced in chapter four. A short chapter five deals with prefixes that include compounds, such as carbon-and hetero-chains, rings, and more complicated compounds. Chapter six, the longest chapter at 278 pages, gives the nomenclature of different classes of compounds by order of priority (radicals, cations, neutral coordination compounds, anions, acids, etc.). The appendices deal with the nomenclature of special classes of compounds and with special conventions, such as the l-convention. Very useful are the Internet addresses where one can find more information.

The book contains thousands of examples. The corresponding parts of names and structures of these examples are often printed in the same color. For instance, in the name '2-Mercaptobenzoesäure' (2-mercaptobenzoic acid) 'Mercapto' is in green, '2' and 'benz' are in red, and 'oesäure' is in blue; the corresponding parts of the structure carry the same colours. This is very helpful to the reader, and makes the book more accessible in principle than the Blue Book.* The examples often also contain explanatory notes that refer to other parts of the book. In many instances, the English name is given as well. The index at the end of the book leads the reader quickly to the relevant page.

Cramming all of this information into 559 pages required the use of a lot of small print that will send readers over 45 to their ophthalmologists if they have not been there yet. The pages look overly busy due to the use of color, bold print, and boxes. However, the information is there, one just has to take the time to find it. It should be stressed that this book is not for beginning chemistry students.

The names in this book follow Chemical Abstracts guidelines, which differ somewhat from IUPAC recommendations.

Where necessary, differences with IUPAC rules are indicated, as in: "N,N-Diethylethanamin, IUPAC: nur Triethylamin." There is a deviation from German nomenclature rules in that the author has added an "o" to prefixes like "chlor." As a consequence of concentrating on the Chemical Abstracts guidelines, various attempts of the now-extinct IUPAC nomenclature commissions to make nomenclature rules more systematic are not found in this book. For instance, PH3 by Chemical Abstracts rules is named "phosphine," although the IUPAC-preferred name is, and has been for quite a while, "phosphane." In parts, the book deviates from inorganic nomenclature guidelines. The systematic names of inorganic anions, for instance, trioxosulfate( 2-) for sulfite, are not used in the derivation of names of organic molecules that contain such groups. Chapter 6 starts with "Freie Radikale." As no one these days uses the word "radical" for a substituent group, we do not speak about "free radicals" anymore, just "radicals." Some of these criticisms are more aimed at the differences between inorganic and organic nomenclature than at the book. According to the title, organometallic chemistry and coordination chemistry are also covered. These topics are, however, confined to Chapter 6.34 and 10 pages in Appendix 6, taking up only 42 pages; further, the treatment of organometallic nomenclature does not reflect current IUPAC guidelines.

This book is clearly the result of many years of work and the author deserves praise for putting it all together in such a systematic way. However, English has become increasingly the language of chemistry since this project was apparently undertaken, a trend that is unlikely to be reversed, and the general usefulness of a German-language compendium is to be questioned. I would, thus, argue that such a book in the English language, especially one that is more accessible to students and other nomenclature novices, would make a more useful addition to the chemistry bibliography.

Reviewed by Prof. Willem H. Koppenol, ETH Hoenggerberg, Zuerich.

*The so-called Blue Book is the IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry, J. Rigaudy and S.P. Klesney, Pergamon, 1979 [ISBN 0-08022-3699], and most recently, the Guide to IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Compounds (recommendations 1993), R. Panico, W.H. Powell, and J.C. Richer, Blackwell Science, 1994 [ISBN 0-63203-4882].





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