Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Chemistry & Biochemistry: General Chemistry

Subject guide for chemistry and biochemistry

Units of Measure, Physical Constants, Physical Laws

Besides the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (see below), there are a number of sources which specialize in units of measure and other basic information for scientific calculation. Examples include:

For Good Measure: A Complete Compendium of Intenational Weights and Measures (Ref QC 88 .J6)
Provides extensive conversion factors for metric to and from other units, and includes an entertaining assortment of obscure and obsolete units.

Conversion Tables of Units for Science & Engineering (Ref QC 94 .H67 1986)
Conversion factors for a wide range of useful units, arranged in tabular form.

Handbook of Physical Calculations, 2nd ed. (Ref QC 61 .T85 1983)
Mainly oriented toward physical and engineering calculations, this work also has extensive tables of units and physical constants.

NIST Reference on Constants, Units and Uncertainty (
This National Institute of Standards and Technology has a searchable and browsable list of the important physical constants with bibliography, as well as a thorough description of the SI system of units and a description of methods of expressing degree of uncertainty in measurements. An excellent reference site.

The Laws List (
This collection of laws, rules constants and definitions of concept in physics, compiled by Erik Max Francis, includes a number of interest in physical chemistry, e.g. the gas laws, Rydberg formula, etc.

Physical Properties of Chemicals: Basic Sources


WebElements (
WebElements is a hypertext-linked collection of property data on the first 112 elements (and some beyond) including (where available): general, chemical, physical, nuclear, electronic, biological, geological, crystallographic, reduction potential, isotopic abundances, electronic configurations, ionization enthalpy data and additional textual information, especially on the history of the elements.

  • Database of chemical substances from a variety of sources.  Currently owned by the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Searchable by name, CAS RN, SMILES string, InChI key, chemical properties, and more
  • Contains name, synonym, expericmental and predicted properties data
  • Links to references from PubMed, spectra from various sources, Wikipedia articles

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics UCSB Only
(SEL Desk QD 65 .H3)

  • Familiar source; published annually but usually changes little from one year to the next.
  • Variety of useful physical and chemical data, with some references. Tables are grouped in broad subject sections. Arrangement within tables varies.
  • Most frequently used for tables of organic compounds and inorganic compounds, which contain data on melting points, boiling points, density and solubility among others.
  • Note that both tables have synonym indexes following the table.
  • Not very systematic in choice of data, and indexing can be inconsistent.
  • Available to UCSB users on the Web as part of CHEMnetBASE at

Merck Index UCSB Only
(Ref Desk RS 356 .M4)

  • Published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, with data primarily on organics, strongest on drugs (surprise!).
  • Includes physical data, preparation references, toxicity and uses.
  • Arranged alphabetically by chemical name; well-indexed; updated irregularly.
  • Available to UCSB users on the Web at

Aldrich Catalog
  (TP 202 .A48, also uncataloged copies)

  • More than just a catalog...
  • Includes basic physical data, cross-references to Beilstein, Merck and Fieser, and safety information.
  • Arranged alphabetically, with indexes by molecular formula and CAS Registry Number.
  • It's available on the Web as part of the Sigma-Aldrich website ( The Web version includes links to Aldrich's FT IR and FT NMR spectra, as well as Materials Safety Data Sheets for most compounds. 

Wikipedia Chemistry Portal (
Wikipedia has a project dedicated to brining quality chemical information to the online collaborative encyclopedia.  You can follow links from the portal, or search by chemical name in the regular Wikipedia search box.  For common chemicals (some 1000 substances), you can also search by name, synonym or CAS Registry number at Common Chemistry (, a cooperative project of Wikipedia and Chemical Abstracts Service.  Wikipedia articles on chemical substances typically have basic physical property data, but availability varies by substance.

Physical Properties of Chemicals: Intermediate Sources

Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology UCSB Only
(Ref TP 9 .E658)

  • Commonly referred to as "Kirk-Othmer" after its early editors.
  • Wide-ranging, authoritative encyclopedia of chemical and process information.
  • Web version corresponds to the 4th edition but with some articles updated annually; 3rd and earlier editions still useful for some classic topics.
  • Very strong on industrially important chemicals.
  • Good subject indexing, cross-references and bibliographies.


  • Besides the CRC Handbook (see above), CHEMnetBASE includes the contents of the Dictionary of... sets and the Handbook of Physical Properties of Organic Compounds listed below. They are searchable by name, formula or property data, and (with the proper plugin) by substructure. UCSB Only

  • Besides Lange's Handbook of Chemistry (se above) Knovel provides electronic versions of an extensive collection of reference works in chemistry.  Data tables are numerically searchable, and some titles provide interactive tables, graphs and equations.

CRC Handbook of Data on Organic Compounds (HODOC)
(Ref QD 257.7 .H36)

  • Multi-volume set gives structures, basic physical properties of organic compounds.
  • Includes references to find compounds in Beilstein and to Sadtler spectra collections.
  • Alphabetical order. Indexes for synonyms, formulas, spectral peaks, CAS Registry #'s. Now in 3rd edition.

Handbook of Physical Properties of Organic Compounds
(Ref QD 257.7 .H374 1997)

  • Single volume, gives structure and data important to environmental fate of compounds (mp, bp, water solubility, octanol-water partition coefficient, vapor pressure, pKa, Henry's Law constant, and atmospheric hydroxyl radical reaction rate constant), and references.
  • Arranged by CAS Registry Number, with name and molecular formula indexes.

Dictionary of Organic Compounds, 6th ed. (Ref QD 251 .D5 1996)

  • Gives structure diagrams, basic physical data (on both the compound and significant derivatives), and references for other information.
  • Alphabetical arrangement; students will probably have to use name index. Also has index of molecular formulas and CAS Registry #'s.
  • Related sets for more specific areas include:
    • Dictionary of Natural Products Ref QD 415 .A25 D53 1994
    • Dictionary of Organometallic Compounds, 2nd ed. Ref QD 411 .D53 1995
    • Dictionary of Organophosphorus Compounds Ref QD 412 .P1 E36 1988
    • Dictionary of Antibiotics Ref RS 431 .A6 D53 1988
    • Dictionary of Drugs Ref RS 51 .D479 1990
    • Dictionary of Analytical Reagents Ref QD 77 .D498 1993

Dictionary of Inorganic Compounds
(Ref QD 148 .D53 1992)

  • Gives structure diagrams, basic physical data (on both the compound and significant derivatives), and references for other information.
  • Arranged by molecular formula, with elements in alphabetical order. So table salt is ClNa; calcium sulfate is CaO4S.
  • For organometallic compounds, see Dictionary of Organometallic Compounds, 2nd ed. above.

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry
(Ref QD 148 .E53 1994)

  • Recent; mixture of short "definition" articles with longer review articles by noted authors with good bibliographies.
  • Covers inorganic, bioinorganic, organo-metallic and coordination chemistry
  • Alphabetical organization, with thematic list in the foreword, subject index and list of contributors.
  • To find physical property data, look under the main element in the compound, then browse the appropriate (inorganic or organometallic) article.

Toxic Properties of Chemicals

  • The SEL Reference Area has lots of information on toxic properties of chemicals beyond what's found in the Merck Index.
  • However, toxicology sources are scattered among several call number ranges:
    • RA 1193-1270
    • SB 951-952.5
    • T 55.5
    • TD 176,4 and TD 196
  • Some noteworthy sources are:

Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials
(SEL Ref T 55.3 .H3 L494 2000)

  • Excellent collection of info, especially LD50 and related data
  • Some information, especially references, are heavily abbreviated. Consult the guide in Vol. 1 to interpret the notations.
  • Alphabetical by substance. Good synonym index, CAS Registry Number index.

Hazardous Substances Resource Guide
(SEL Ref Desk T 55.3 .H3 H344 1993)

  • Good recent source with effects on humans
  • Lists of useful publications, organizations

ATSDR's Toxicological Profiles 


  • Contains over 40,000 pages of toxicological information on over 150 compounds.
  • Each profile includes an examination, summary, and interpretation of available toxicological and epidemiological data evaluations on the hazardous substance.
  • The tables are browsable by table of contents, or keyword searchable, either individually or combined.


Spectra Sources

UCSB Library has a variety of collections of spectra, some one volume, some multivolume, including IR, NMR, UV, powder diffraction, etc..

  • Most are located at either QC 435-765 or QD 95-96.
  • Some have general coverage, some deal with specific classes of compounds.
  • Many are arranged by class of compounds, some have random order. Most will require use of the name or molecular formula indexes to locate specific compounds.
  • The most commonly requested types of spectra are infrared spectra, NMR spectra, and mass spectra.
  • The main spectra collections available in the UCSB Library are:

Multi-Spectral Collections

Spectral Database for Organic Compounds (SDBS)​
This site, from the National Institute of Materials and Chemical Research in Japan, contains full spectra and, in many cases, peak assignments for 34,600 compounds, including about 25,000 mass spectra, 14,200 13C NMR, 15,900 proton NMR, 54,100 IR, 3,500 Raman and 2,000 ESR spectra. The database is searchable by compound name, CAS Registry Number, molecular formula and NMR, IR or MS peaks. The database is free to the public, but users are asked to download no more than 50 spectra per day without specific permission of the site owners.

SpectraBase is a freely available collection of spectra, covering hundreds of thousands of organic, organometallic and inorganic compounds. Spectra include proton NMR, heteronuclear NMR, FTIR, transmission IR, Raman, UV-VIS and mass spectra, plus basic property data, though not all spectra types are available for all compounds. Peak assignments are available for NMR spectra. The collection may be searched by chemical name, CAS Registry Number or InChi key. Only one spectrum may be displayed at a time. Note that (free( registration is required, and there are frequent advertisements displayed for the database producer, Bio-Rad.


Aldrich Library of Infrared Spectra, 2nd ed.    (Ref QD 96 .I5 P67 1981)
Sadtler Handbook of Infrared Spectra    (Ref QC 453 .S73 1978)
NIST Chemistry Webbook
Among other data, NIST Chemistry Webbook has IR spectra for over 16,000 compounds, which may be searched in a variety of ways, displayed and printed.


Sadtler Handbook of Proton NMR Spectra    (Ref QC 490 .S23)
Sadtler Guide to Carbon 13 NMR Spectra    (Ref QC 762 .S28 1983)
Aldrich Library of NMR Spectra (3 volumes)    (Ref QC 762 .P69)
Aldrich Library of 13C and 1H FT NMR Spectra (3 volumes)    (Ref QD 96 .F68 P67 1993)
Handbook of Proton-NMR Spectra and Data (10 volumes + index)    (Ref QC 762 .H33 1985)

Mass Spectra

Eight Peak Index of Mass Spectra, 3rd ed.    (QC 454 .M3 M41 1983)
This seven part set gives the eight most abundant ions in 66,720 mass spectra, indexed by molecular weight, elemental composition and most abundant ions.
NIST Chemistry Webbook
Among other data, NIST Chemistry Webbook has mass spectra for over 15,000 compounds, which may be searched in a variety of ways, displayed and printed.

Spectroscopic Identification Tools

Spectroscopic Tools (
This site allows the user to plug in IR peaks in wavenumbers, proton NMR peaks or mass spectral peaks and retrieve a list of the functional groups which would generate those peaks. It also has a 13C NMR database, searchable by peak or chemical name fragment, which can retrieve structures, spectra, peaks and peak assignments. Some features require the Chime browser plugin.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Chuck Huber
UCSB Library, Room 2523A2
Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010

Copyright © 2008-2019 The Regents of the University of California, All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Library (805) 893-2478 • Music Library (805) 893-2641 • UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010
Contact UsPolicies