Chemistry Nomenclature Quiz Program    



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Written by Michael Harwood using Visual Basic in 2011, upgraded to Java in 2014


Thanks to Mr. Dennis Trankner who wrote a DOS nomenclature program in 1991 called "CHEMICAL NOMENCLATURE V 4.00", a.k.a. Nomen40.exe. Nomen40 was the inspiration for this program.

I rewrote this as a Windows program using Visual Basic (v5.0),
and then, with the help of a programmer named Zenista, rewrote it all in Java.

Licensing & Registration

This program is shareware. Try it and if you find it useful, please pay a small registration fee:
Individual Users: $5.00
School wide license: $100.00

Use in poorer countries is free. A poor country is one that has a GDP per capita of less than US$15,000 (although, there may be rich schools in that country who want to use it and should pay for it).

How to pay: go to PayPal, click on "Send Money", type in "" Follow the instructions. I will send you a receipt for proof of purchase.
Email me at if you need help.


  • You can choose which types of ionic compounds you want
  • You can choose which type of questions you want (names, formulas or both)
  • The list of ions used is in the file IONS.DAT and can be edited. I included what I considered the most common multivalent ions, polyatomic ions, and covalent compounds.
  • After 20 questions, you will be given the option to print out the questions you answered. This goes to the default printer and may be useful if your teacher requires proof of your competence.
  • Spelling is not checked: element symbols must be in the proper case.

How it works


All of the ions and covalent compounds that the nomenclature program uses are read from the file "ions.dat". This file must be in the resources folder. You can edit this file to add/remove/change information.

For example, I have put in the spelling sulfur and sulfide with an "F". The program will not recognize sulphur spelled with a PH unless you edit the ions.dat file and change the spelling there.

There are 9 different section headings in the file.
Each section can have up to 40 ions in it. Any more will be ignored. The spelling and format of the headings must be exactly as it is in the ions.dat file. Everything after a heading is considered part of that category until the next heading is reached or the end of the file is reached.

For example, everything under [Cations-monovalent] is considered to be a positively charged monovalent ion.

Lines beginning with a semi-colon are considered to be comments and are ignored as are blank lines.

All lines must have exactly the following format:

There are three fields, separated by commas. No spaces or other characters can be anywhere.

  • The first field is the name of the ion or element. This can be any case as the program will "uppercase" it anyway.
  • The second field is the formula or element symbol. The case must be correct here. Numbers are just typed in in regular case. No parentheses or charges are allowed.
  • The third field is the charge or oxidation number. Do not put in an + or - signs. If there are many possible charges (for positive ions only), then write the numbers in any order, but do not separate them.

Examples of correct formatting (the ions belong in different categories):




The [Covalent-complex] section has a special format. There are only two fields: one for the name and the next for the formula.
Example of covalent-complex formatting:


Options Screen

On the first screen, you select the types of anions and cations that you want. You can choose which type of questions you want (names, formulas or both). If you choose covalent compounds, the ionic selections are disabled until you de-select the covalent ones. Click the Start button.
The options screen is still visible, so that if you want to, you can change your options as you go along. The next question that the program creates will reflect your updated choices.
Note: if you choose covalent compounds, the ionic selections are disabled until you de-select the covalent ones.

Questions Screen

This is the main screen.
In the top left hand corner are the menus:

  • Nomen
    • Options : go back to the Options screen
    • Periodic Table
    • Exit
  • Help
    • F1: list of cations used
    • F2: list of anions used
    • F3: help for this question
    • About Nomen


F1 and F2 will give the list of all of the positive and negative ions respectively. For covalent compounds, there is no F2.
F3 will give help specific for the current question. If you choose F3, this is recorded in the printout (see below).

Question generation:

The program randomly chooses a cation and then randomly chooses an anion. If the cation is multivalent it randomly chooses a charge from the charges listed in ions.dat.
When a simple covalent compound is randomly made, the program first checks the complex covalent compounds to make sure that it doesn’t have a special name. If a special name is found, the special name is used. This means that CH4 will be called methane, not carbon tetrahydride.

Note: not all compounds actually exist in nature!

Entering answers

  • chemical names:
    • the case does not matter
    • for multivalent ions, () must follow the cation with no space between them
    • the valence must be in Roman numerals, but case does not matter
    • example: copper(II) chloride
  • formulas:
    • must have the correct case.
    • use ( ) where needed
    • numbers will automatically become subscripts
    • example: Ca(NO3)2
To check your answer, press <ENTER> or click on the check answer button.
If you get it wrong, you can fix it and try again.
If you click "I give up" then the correct answer will be displayed.

Score & Printout:

Your score is recorded in the top right corner.
After 20 questions, you are asked if you want to print out a list of the questions asked. This is because some teachers may want to mark it. The questions are printed to the default printer on your computer. An answer is only considered wrong if you press "I give up".
If you have pressed F3 for a question, the program notes "help needed" next to that question.

Bugs and missing features

*** peroxide formulas are wrong: ***
e.g. chromium(VI) peroxide is displayed as CrO23 instead of Cr(O2)3

If you find any bugs please email me at
If you want a feature that I have not included, feel free to contact me. I may add it to the program – depending on whether I am making any money from it or not. (I've only made $150 in the past 5 years!)

This document last updated on Dec 12, 2020