I'll preface this by saying I haven't had a chemistry class in 10 years and molecular structures are not my thing. But I'm submitting a revision to a journal paper where I need to include figures of molecules and I need to make sure I get it right so I don't get nit-picked apart for it.

Is there a standard/guide/list of rules for how to create chemical molecule figures like the one below?

enter image description here

I'm looking for a comprehensive list of rules but as an example of things I would need to know:

  1. Should I include the carbon atoms in the ring drawing?
  2. At what angle should the entire molecule be drawn (I've seen rigid-body rotated versions of the same molecule before)?

Rather than answering those specific questions, I'd like to know if anybody (IUPAC maybe?) has a standard for drawing these figures.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's also worth noting that most chemistry journals publish their own instructions for authors including guidelines for figures and chemical structures. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Jun 6, 2014 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


As it happens, there are a set of quite involved documents from the "IUPAC Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation Division".

There's a list here, but to avoid later link-rot, they are currently:

  • Jonathan Brecher Graphical representation of stereochemical configuration (IUPAC Recommendations 2006) 2006, Vol. 78, Issue 10, pp. 1897-1970
  • Richard M. Hartshorn, Evamarie Hey-Hawkins, René Kalio and G. Jeffery Leigh: Representation of configuration in coordination polyhedra and the extension of current methodology to coordination numbers greater than six (IUPAC Technical Report) 2007, Vol. 79, Issue 10, pp. 1779-1799
  • W. Mormann and K.-H. Hellwich: Structure-based nomenclature for cyclic organic macromolecules (IUPAC Recommendations 2008) 2008, Vol. 80, Issue 2, pp. 201-232
  • Jonathan Brecher: Graphical representation standards for chemical structure diagrams (IUPAC Recommendations 2008) 2008, Vol. 80, Issue 2, pp. 277-410
  • Andrey Yerin, Edward S. Wilks, Gerard P. Moss and Akira Harada: Nomenclature for rotaxanes and pseudorotaxanes (IUPAC Recommendations 2008) 2008, Vol. 80, Issue 9, pp. 2041-2068
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I found "Graphical representation standards for chemical structure diagrams" to be exactly what I was looking for and the most helpful of the bunch. But man is it dry reading! $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Dec 1, 2013 at 16:09

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