Interpreting Proton NMR – Overview

Posted on Dec 12, 2011

A bird’s eye view of 1H NMR spectra interpretation in comic form.  Here we first dissect the visual mess into the three major components implicit in every peak, and then systematically approach each component to show the connection between spectral information and molecular parameters.  Click on the image to expand; for printing, a resolution-independent PDF is available here.

Side-note: a number of people have been looking for this to be published in the last year.  If you’re one of them… I’m sorry for the tardiness!  NMR is the flagship of organic structure identification, revealing much more information than techniques like IR; the corollary is that interpreting NMR is a bigger and more nuanced topic than comparable techniques (on both interpretation and theoretical grounds).  I’ve been going back-and-forth the drawing board to select the right amount of content to include in this overview, and what to reserve for others.  Hopefully this final version is a good compromise.  I encourage and appreciate your comments and questions, and will make updates to the spread with your feedback.

Side-note 2:  Do you speak another language and would like to see this translated?  Contact me and we’ll try to work something out.

Update (R4, 15 Dec 2011):  Updated with corrections.  I thank Shaun MacLean (U of Manitoba) and James Ashenhurst (Mastering Organic Chemistry) for their helpful suggestions.

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  • Drslade (HWS)

    Excellent work, on this AND the IR interpretation sheet – exactly the sort of thing a desperate student could use. If and when you write the Page2 of NMR with the “neighbors” I’ll be very intrigued to see what you come up with, as a WHOLE bunch of my students have proved resistant to the concept…

    • Jon

      Hello! Thanks for the compliments. I’m curious about your teaching experience – which parts of the coupling does your students find hard to grasp? (Knowing common misconceptions help in the planning.)

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  • Polish interpreter

    That amazing work!!!!!!!

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  • Michael

    Fantastic work, the chemistry undergrads at Griffith University in Australia love your work.

    • Jon


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  • NotTodayy

    this is freaking amazing. must ask my professor to post this link. you have to start writing textbooks.

    • Jon

      My thanks. I did imagine a longer, more coherent work, but that’s not looking easy with the demands of the new job.

  • nympis

    I love your works and I am happy to share them with my students. I am a PhD and research assistant at Gazi University Faculty of Pharmacy (from Turkey). Thanx for your pretty works.
    Nilüfer Orhan

    • Jon

      Glad they are of help. Hope I’ll get time and inspiration to draw in the future.

  • Roy Freeman

    Great stuff! Keep up the good work!