LaTeX Typsetting and Organic Reactions

I was wondering if anyone reading my posts has ever used LaTeX to typeset organic reactions. I can draw the reactions I need using ChemDraw and simply include them as figures, but I’d like to include them as equations instead. Seems more appropriate to do it this way. If anyone has some experience with this, I’d appreciate some advice. Thanks.

If you’re reading this and have no idea what LaTeX is, you can read all about it here.


5 Responses

  1. I used ChemSketch and drew the figures, but my professor wanted them as figures anyways, especially to draw out the reaction mechanisms. Then I’d just add a text box, or insert my ChemSketch in Word to do the equation.

    Sorry, I guess I didn’t answer your question because I haven’t used LaTex.

    • No problem. I stopped using MS Word a long time ago. I’ll have to see how it turns out – I tend to be really anal when it comes to work I turn in, but I probably shouldn’t get too worked up over it. It’s not being submitted to a journal or anything.

  2. Hey,
    I just found this article by looking for “latex organic chem” so, I’ll just share the little I know.

    I recently wrote my master’s thesis in LaTeX with ChemDraw pdfs as schemes and figures, included like float figures. And two weeks before the due date, I read about a set of packages : chemscheme, mhchem, and PGF/TikZ. The first two add some useful macros for organic chemists like the scheme float (useful du differentiate reaction pathways from general figures) and others. PGF/TikZ is actually a drawing environment.

    But the fun part is you can use mhchem and TikZ code to generate your structures, label them, with auto-numerotation and all the LaTeX magic that come with it. It’s not the only way, but it looked quite interesting. Basically it was too late for me to learn the PSTricks or TikZ code and change all my figures and schemes (60-70 structures…) but the automation was really interesting, just to call a \ref{} instead of looking for the compound number in the labbook and finally getting rid of the re-numbering after modification… I think there’s some limitations though, like the use of eps files, and epstopdf conversion after typesetting, …

    Here’s my two cents !

    • Thanks for the comment – I seem to get a LOT of organic chemistry traffic. I’ve used mhchem to do inline bonding like R-CH2-CH3 as well as chemical formulas and equations. Incredibly easy to use and really simple.

      Beyond that, I’ve been doing basically what you did – I draw what I like in ChemDraw and then export it to a .PNG and include it as a float and that seems to work pretty well. PNG format seems to be better suited than JPG since ChemDraw figures need to be scaled down quite a bit. I’ll have to check out the other packages you mentioned. Thanks.

  3. Hi,

    Aren’t reaction schemes includes as – well – schemes? The chemstyle package ( provides an environment for that.

    BTW: there is the ChemFig package ( which provides an easy and intuitive way to typeset organic structures directly into the document. It internally uses TikZ. There is no need for picture conversion or anything.

    As for referencing a labelling compounds: there a several packages, that support that, e.g. chemcompounds, bpchem or chemcono


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