Skip to main content
Login to LibApps

Chemistry & Biochemistry

This is a guide for library resources in Chemistry & Biochemistry.


Beilstein is a comprehensive source of critically evaluated data for organic compounds and includes the corresponding literature references. It contains information for over 1.5 million substances identified in the literature; however, macromolecular compounds and some types of natural products are excluded. Data include name, synonyms, formula, preparation, and physical and chemical properties.

Arrangement of Volumes on the Shelf

Beilstein is shelved on Aisle 4B in the Science Reference area of Noble Library. The call number is: QD251 .B4. Each volume of Beilstein concentrates on a group of structurally related compounds and is composed of these 6 parts:

  1. Main Work (Hauptwerk, abbreviated "H") covers the literature up to 1910,
  2. First Supplement (Erstes Ergänzungswerk "EI") covers 1910-1919,
  3. Second Supplement (Zweites Ergänzungswerk, "EII") covers 1920-1929,
  4. Third Supplement (Drittes Ergänzungswerk, "EIII") covers 1930-1949,
  5. Fourth Supplement (Viertes Ergänzungswerk, "EIV") covers 1950-1959, and
  6. Fifth Supplement (Fünftes Ergänzungswerk, "EV") covers 1960-1979.

Volumes 17-27 have a combined 3rd and 4th supplement. The Main Work and the First through the Fourth Supplements were published in German. The Fifth Supplement is in English, however, ASU has only volumes 17, 18 and 19, parts 1-6.


On the shelf, all parts of volume 1 are shelved together (Main Work, First Supplement, Second Supplement, Third Supplement, Fourth Supplement) followed by all parts of volume 2 and so on, through volume 27.

Finding a Compound in Beilstein

Volumes 1-4 contain information on acyclic compounds, volumes 5-16 isocyclic compounds and volumes 17-27 heterocyclic compounds. Compounds are not arranged in alphabetical order by name but rather by a special system based on structure. There are several methods for locating a compound in Beilstein.

  1. Use the Collective Index (labelled volumes 28 and 29), located at the end of the last regular volume (27). This index covers the Main Work and the First through the Fourth Supplements of all 27 volumes. Volume 28 is the subject or chemical name index (in German) and volume 29 is the molecular formula index.

    Because the chemical names are in German, it may be easier to try the molecular formula index (volume 29) first. Under the formula the German names of the corresponding compounds and their locations are listed. For example, the molecular formula for 2,3-dimethylthiophene is C6H8S. In the index under C6H8S is the name and volume/page information,
    Thiophen, 2,3-Dimethyl- 17 40 j, II 41 d, IV 287

    This indicates that 2,3-dimethylthiophene can be found in Volume 17, Main Work, on page 40; Second Supplement on page 41, and the Fourth Supplement on page 287. The lower case letters "j" and "d" refer to the position on the page.

    To find the compound in the Fifth Supplement, see the section "Finding a Compound in Later Supplements" in this handout.
  2. Older editions of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics contain Beilstein references. The staff of the Beilstein Institute compiled these references. The older editions of the CRC are available in the Science Reference shelves under QD65 .H3.

    For the 61st (1980/1981) through the 74th (1993/1994) editions, in Section C or 3 (Physical Constants of Organic Compounds), the last column (Ref) contains the references to the chemical literature. A "B" in front of an entry refers to Beilstein. The "B" references contain a volume number with the supplement number in superscript, a comma and then the page number. For example, the reference for 2,3-dimethylthiophene (listed under thiophene, 2,3-dimethyl) is B17 (superscript)4, 287. This indicates that the compound is in volume 17, Fourth Supplement, on page 287.

    For the 75th (1994/1995) through the 83rd (2002/2003) editions, in Section 3 (Physical Constants of Organic Compounds), the column headed "Beil. Ref." contains the Beilstein reference. The references contain a supplement number, then a volume number, part number (only used for the 5th supplement) and finally a page number. For example, the reference for 2,3-dimethylthiophene is 5-17-01-00342. This shows that the compound is in the Fifth Supplement of volume 17, in part 1 on page 342.

    The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics contains only the reference to the latest supplement at the time of publication. This is why the later editions refer to the Fifth Supplement, while the earlier editions refer to the Fourth. To find the compound in earlier supplements of Beilstein see the section "Finding a Compound in Earlier Supplements" in this handout.
  3. Beilstein references are also found in Lange's Handbook of Chemistry in the "Physical Constants of Organic Compounds" table.. The references are to earliest appearance in Beilstein rather than the latest supplement as in the CRC. If using this method, be sure to read the section "Finding a Compound in Later Supplements" in this handout. Entries in these sources are similar in format to those in the earlier editions of the CRC. Lange's Handbook of Chemistry is available online via Knovel - select "Chemistry & Chemical Engineering", then "General References".

Content of a Beilstein Entry

Each entry in Beilstein gives the compound name, synonyms, molecular formula, structure, and references to earlier volumes of Beilstein. Next is an abbreviated account of the history, occurrence, preparation, physical and chemical properties, reactions, behavior, addition compounds and salts of the featured compound, if available. A literature reference follows each of these items.

Sample Entry From the 4th Supplement (German)

EIII/IV 17                    Syst. Nr. 2364 / H 40-41            287

2,3- Dimethyl-thiophen C6H8S, Formel XII (H 40; EII 41).
     B. Aus 3-Methyl-thiophen-2-carbaldehyd beim Erhitzen mit Hydrazin-hyrat und mit Kaliumhydroxid in Äthylenglykol (King, Nord, J. org. Chem. 14 [1949] 638). Aus 3-Methyl-tiophen-2-carbaldehyd-semicarbazon (Hartough, Am. Soc. 73 [1951] 4033). Reinigung über 4,5-Dimethyl-[2]thienylquecksilber-chlorid: Shepard, Am. Soc. 54 [1932] 2951.
     1H-1H-Spin-Spin-Kopplungskonstante Takahashi et al., Bl. chem. Soc. Japan 32 [1959] 156, 158; Corio, Weinberg, J. chem. Physics 31 [1959] 569.
     E: -49,1°bis -48.9° (Sh.). Kp760: 142,5° (Ha), 140,2-141,2° (Sh); Kp: 139,5_140,5° (King, Nord). D240:1,0021; D340:0,99919 (Sh). n2D01,5188 (King, Nord), 1,5192 (Sh.), 1,5194 (Ha); n3D0: 1,5140 (Sh.), IR-Spektrum von 2µ bis 15µ: A.P.I. Res. Project 44 Nr. 945 {1949]; von 15 µ bis 23 µ : A.P.I. Res. Project 44 Nr. 946 [1949].
     Massenspektrum (Elektronenstoss): Kinney, Cook, Anal. Chem. 24 [1952] 1391, 1393; Amberg, J. Inst. Petrol. 45 [1959] 1, 6.

Sample Entry From the 5th Supplement (English)

E V 17/1           Syst. No. 2364 / H 40-41; E III/IV 287-288            343

2,3-Dimethyl-thiophene C6H8S, formula VIII (X=H)(H 40; E II 41; E III/IV 287).
     Prep. From 2,3-dibromo-thiophene, by sequential treatment with (i) LiBun {Et2O; -70°}, and (ii) Me2SO4 (Janda et al., Synthesis 1972 545). From 2-bromo-3-methyl-thiophene, by sequential treatment with (i) LiEt or LiBun, and (ii) Me2SO4 (Wiersema, Gronowitz, Acta Chem. Scand. 24 [1970] 2593, 2595, 2604; Gronowitz et al., Chem. Scr. 5 [1974] 217, 220, 225). From 5-chloro-3-methyl-pent-e-ene-1-yne (US 3544596 [1970]; CA 74 [1971] 99857).
     Fundamental vibrations (Scott, J. Mol. Spectrosc. 31 [1969] 451, 457; Akiyama, Kakiuti, J. Mol. Spectrosc. 34 [1970] 288, 291, 292; Akiyama, J. Mol. Spectrosc. 43 [1973] 226, 230, 231). bp: 142-144° (Wi, Gr.), 140°(Ja. et al.). n2D0: 1.5180 (Gr. et al.). 1H-NMR (Rodmar et al., Acata Chem. Scanc. 20 [1966] 2515, 2517; Ja, et al,; Wi., Gr.). MS (Nishimura, Mizutani, J. Org. Chem. 40 [1975] 1567, 1569; Hanzawa et al., Agric. Biol. Chem. 37 [1973] 2393, 2397).
     Reaction of tritio-derivatives with aq. HClO4: tritium exchange; kinetics (Alexander, Butler, J. Chem. Soc. Perkin Trans. 2 1977 1998).

Finding a Compound in Earlier Supplement

In the header for each entry, the H and E references in parentheses show the location of the compound in the Main Work and earlier Supplements. Since the compound is always located in the same volume whatever the Supplement, the volume number is not repeated.

In the 5th Supplement example above, the information is given as (H 40; E II 41; E III/IV 287). This indicates the compound (2, 3-Dimetnhyl-thiophene) can be found in the main work of volume 17 on page 40, in the Second Supplement of volume 17 on page 41 and in the combined Third/Fourth Supplement on page 287.

Finding a Compound in Later Supplements

To find the compound in a more recent supplement, look at the pages where the compound was orignally located. The information at the top of the pages includes the system number and the page from the Main Work in which this compound appeared (or would have appeared if discovered before 1910). Go to the later supplement and, using the information on the top of the pages, find the section where the numbers match. If any literature on the compound appeared during the period that this supplement covers, then the compound will be somewhere within these pages.

From the examples on the previous page, note that the Fourth Supplement contains this information at the top of the page:

EIII/IV 17            Syst. Nr. 2364 / H 40-41            287

This indicates this is the combined Third/Fourth Supplement of volume 17, page 287. The page contains compounds that are in System Number 2364 and these compounds appeared (or would have appeared if they had been discovered before 1910) in the Main Work of volume 17 on pages 40-41.

Now look at the example from the Fifth Supplement. Note that the information on the top of the pages includes the same information as the Fourth Supplement:

EV 17/1           Syst. No. 2364 / H 40-41; E III/IV 287-288           343

This indicates that this is the Fifth Supplement of volume 17, part 1, page 343. The compounds on this page are in System Number 2364 and appeared (or would have appeared) on pages 40-41 of the Main Work of volume 17 and on pages 287-288 of the combined Third/Fourth Supplement of volume 17.

Journal Abbreviations Used in Beilstein

Beilstein uses very short, nonstandardized abbreviations for journal names. To find the full journal title, look in the first part of the Supplement that is being used. For example, the journal list (called Verzeichnis der Kürzungen für die Literatur-Quellen) for the combined Third/Fourth Supplement of volume 17 is found in part 1 of that Supplement on the intorductory pages XLIX-XCIII.

Some Beilstein journal abbreviations can be found online at:

German/English and English/German Dictionaries for Beilstein

For help with translating German or finding information within the German entries, use either:

Need More Help?

Contact our "Ask a Librarian" service for assistance

Hours and Locations