Beilstein in Print

Beilstein in Print

The Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry (Ref QD 251 B4) is an encyclopedia of organic compounds which presents critically assessed data for each compound on natural occurrence and isolation, preparation and purification, physical properties, chemical behavior and reactions, identification by derivation and analytical procedures, and special handling techniques. A working knowledge of organic chemistry is vital.

References are given to the original article from which the data was taken so that the sources may be consulted if desired. Since Beilstein does present data, it often is not necessary to refer back to the original source. For information on searching Beilstein electronically, please consult a Reference Librarian.

The main series (houptwerk) and supplements (ergangzungswerk) currently cover world literature from 1880 to 1959. Supplementary series 5 began publication in 1984 and covers the literature from 1960-1979. While the main series and first four supplements are in German, supplementary series 5 is in English. A cumulative index covers the main series and the first four supplements. The library no longer subscribes to Beilstein in paper.


Period of Literature

Color on Spine/Label

Basic Series

up to 1909

dull green

Supplementary Series I


dull green

Supplementary Series II


tan or brown/cream

Supplementary Series III

1930-1949 volumes 1-17


Supplementary Series III/IV

1930-1959 volumes 19-27


Supplementary Series IV



Cumulative Index



Supplementary Series V




The main series and each of the supplements are divided into 27 volumes in which compounds are listed in the volumes by system numbers of the Beilstein system. The Beilstein system is a collection of rules designed to assign to any one-carbon compound a definite place within a sequence of all carbon compounds. There are three main divisions in the Beilstein system; acyclic, isocyclic, and heterocyclic compounds.

A chemist who understands the Beilstein system can locate information about a compound quickly through the volume and system number. References to a given compound can be located in earlier or later series once the system number is known. Volume numbers correspond to system numbers and, if listed, the compound will always appear in the same volume number of each supplementary series. Due to the growth of the chemical literature, it has been necessary to subdivide many volumes in the later supplements. For a detailed explanation of the Beilstein system, see the booklet How to Use Beilstein, shelved at the end of the last supplement.

How to Search

1. Check the general subject and formula indexes in the Cumulative Index (Gesamtregister) or to the main series and the first and second supplements (volume numbers 75-79 of the Physical Sciences Library's numbering system). If the compound is listed, refer to the pages and volume numbers as given. After consulting the listing, the system number will be known and later information can be found by consulting 5th supplement under the same system number.

2. If the compound is not listed in the general indexes, check the Beilstein Guide to determine the probable volume or volumes that might contain the compound (Ref QD251.B43 W4413 1976, shelved at the end of the last supplement). A table (found on pages 53-55 of the guide) lists the contents of Beilstein by volume and system number. The indexes to the appropriate volume(s) for the 3rd, 4th and 5th supplements must then be consulted.

3. When the official nomenclature of a compound is not known, consult Beilstein’s Index: Trivial Names in Systematic Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (Ref QD251 B42G53 1986, shelved at the end of the last supplement). This book contains all the trivial names which are to be found as roots of names used in Beilstein’s chemical substance index. The Beilstein reference is given so that immediate reference can be made to the appropriate volume.

Searching Beilstein online

The Beilstein database may be searched online through the STN service. The Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry file also gives the Beilstein system number. Fees may apply. Please consult a reference librarian for more details.

Sample Searches

Using the Formula Index (Formeleregister)

Example shown is a page from the general formula index covering the main series and 1st and 2nd supplements:

Entry is found in volume 6, supplement 1, page 354


Entry is found in volume 13, main series, page 546






Entries are found in volume 12, supplement 2, page 554

C20H18N2OS N-Nitroso-N-methyl-triphenyl-
        methylschwefelamid 6 I 354.
        harnstoff 13 I 203.
        harnstoff 13, 546.
    Verbindung C20H18N2OS aus N.N’-
        formamidin 12, 237.
    Verbindung C20H18N2OS aus N-Phenyl-
benz-amidin 12, 265.
C20H18N2O2 Truxon-dioximdimethyläther
        7 I 438.
    N-[µ Oxy-benzhydryl]-N'-benzoyl-hydrazin
        9, 322
    [2-Nitro-phenyl]-dibenzylamin 12 II 554.
    [3-Nitro-phenyl]-dibenzylamin 12 II 554.
    [4-Nitro-phenyl]-dibenzylamin 12, 1037,
        II 554.

Using the Subject Index (Sachregister)

Example shown is a page from the general subject index for volume 1 of the Cumulative Index 1880-1959:

Entries are found on page 704 of the main series, page 362 of the 1st supplement, page 758 of the 2nd supplement, page 2872 of the 3rd supplement, and page 3339 of the 4th supplement.


Octan-2-on 704 h, I 362 c, II 758 b,
    III 2872 g, IV 3339
        --azin 705 c, III 2875 b
        --diäthylacetal II 759 a
        --hydrazon IV 3341
        --oxim 705 b, I 362 d,
            III 2875 a, IV 3340
--, 4-Äthyl-, oxim III 2900 k
--, 1-Brom- IV 3341
--, 3-Brom- III 2876 a, IV 3341

Sample Entry

Example from Supplement III/IV vol. 19 p. 1033 System Number 2718


Since no cross reference to earlier volumes appears, this is the first time that the compound has been mentioned.

Reference to an article on preparation.
Consult the front of each volume for an explanation of journal abbreviations used in that volume.







Compound was referenced earlier in main series, page 85; in first supplement, page 641; and second supplement, page 97.
No indication of volume number is made -- in this case volume 19 -- because the compound will always appear in the same volume number.



Dihydroxy-Verbindungen CnH2n--10O4

Dihydroxy-Verbindungen C8H6O4

5,5'-[2-Carboxy-phenylmercapto]-[2,2']bithienyl, 2,2'-[2,2']Bithienyl-5,5'-diyldimercapto-di-benzoesäure C22H14O4S4, Formel I.

B. Beim Erhitzen von 5,5'-Dijod-[2,2']bithienyl mit 2-Mercapto-benzoesäure, Kalium-carbonat, Kupfer(II)-acetat und Pentan-1-ol (Steinkopf et al., A.) 527 [1937] 237, 262).

Hellgelbe Krystalle (aus Methylbenzoat); F; 299-300°.


Dihydroxy-Verbindungen C10H10O4

4,7-Dimethoxy-5-trans-propenyl-benzo[1,3]dioxol, Isoapiol C12H14O4, Formel II (H 85; E I 641; E II 97; dort auch als Petersilien-Isoapiol bezeichnet).

Konfigurationszuordnung: Shulgin, J. Chromatography 30 [1967] 54, 59.


4,5-Dimethoxy-6--trans-propenyl-benzo[1,3]dioxol, C11H14O4 Formel III (H 87; E 11 98; dort auch als Dillöl-Isoapiol bezeichnet).

Konfigurationszuordnung: Shulgin, J. Chromatography 30 [1967] 54, 59.

Interpreting Beilstein citations

Example: The Aldrich Catalog handbook of fine chemicals entry for 4-tert-Butylcyclohexanol gives a reference to Beil. 6(1),18. How can we find it? Answer: The full entry is to Beilstein volume 6, supplement 1, page 18.

Aids to Searching Beilstein

As well as the titles mentioned above, other guides on the arrangement and use of Beilstein are available at UCR:

A brief introduction to the use of Beilstein's Handbuch der organischen chemie, by Ernest Hamlin Huntress. (QD251 .B43 1938 )

How to use Beilstein : Beilstein handbook of organic chemistry, published by the Beilstein Institute. (QD251 .B42 1978 Shelved after Beilstein)

The Beilstein online database: implementation, content, and retrieval (QD257.7 .B39 1990).

Information sources in chemistry, ed. R.T. Bottle & J.F.B. Rowland. 4th ed. (Ref QD8.5 .I47 1993) has a chapter on searching Beilstein.

Also helpful is the Beilstein Dictionary (shelved after Beilstein). This source, along with other German-English technical dictionaries, will assist the user unfamiliar with scientific German. All Beilstein searching aids are shelved at the end of the Beilstein volumes. More general search aids, such as the dictionaries, are shelved in the regular reference collection by call number.



Last modified: 11/20/2003 4:53 PM by by M. Potter

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012
UCR Career Opportunities
Library Job Opportunities

UCR Library Information

Directions / Mailing Addresses
Tomás Rivera Library: (951) 827-3220
Orbach Science Library: (951) 827-3701
Music Library: (951) 827- 3137
Multimedia Library: (951) 827-5606

Related Links


UCR Libraries Facebook UCR Libraries Twitter UCR Libraries YouTube UCR Libraries News UCR Libraries Mobile Website