If I draw a molecule (for example glucose) and I want to name it, should I write glucose or Glucose? My aim is to draw a molecule, add the name below and then use this as a figure in a Word text.

  • $\begingroup$ It's really up to you. I usually stick with uncapitalised. $\endgroup$
    – orthocresol
    Jan 13 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ If you do this with the automatic function in ChemDraw ("Convert Structure to Name"), the label is not capitalized. $\endgroup$
    – Loong
    Jan 13 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ Treat chemical names as common nouns with uniform style. However, due to verbosity of certain chemical names, it might be a good idea to label each chemical structure with unique number and provide corresponding names in text. This is likely going to save a lot of hassle if you are asked to use PINs or fit your images into a column. $\endgroup$
    – andselisk
    Jan 13 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


Stay with the rules set by IUPAC's colour books, e.g. Blue Book for organic compounds, and Red Book for inorganic compound, and and don't capitalize the names if these names are used within an English phrase. Descriptors like (E/Z) you always capitalize are a different thing, though.

If these documents are too long for you, you may consider their condensed versions (cf. chemistry.se resources page about material to learn chemistry, section nomenclature) for their brief guide and 4-page excerpts (guide, excerpt for organic; guide, excerpt for inorganic compounds). Below the heading of the 4-page excerpts for both (which are published open access):

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  • $\begingroup$ Both the brief guides, as well as the 4-page excerpts include flow charts how to determine the elements to consider (e.g., what are elements/substitutents; their number), how to name them, and how to sort them by priority. I still consider these and their intentional use of colour very helpful. $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Jan 13 at 11:33

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