The Handbook is divided into a Basic Work (Hauptwerk, abbreviated H) and four Supplementary series (Ergänzungswerke, abbreviated E), each of which covers a specific period of literature through 1959. The Fifth Supplement (E-V) covered only selected heterocyclic compounds in the literature from 1960-1979.
|Basic Work||H||1-27||to 1909|
* Volumes on Heterocyclics were combined into one series for these years.
** The 5th Supplement was published in English. (The Chemistry Library stopped buying new volumes after 1990.) This Supplement has only partially been converted to the database version. No literature from 1980 onward was ever covered in the printed Beilstein.
Compounds are arranged according to the "Beilstein System," a complex series of rules which permit every substance to be assigned one specific location in the Handbook, based on its constitution and structure. Thus, every compound has a Volume Number and a System Number, which do not change over time. Once you know these, you can search for information in the same place in all of the handbook's parts. Compounds are divided into three broad categories:
|Compound Type||Volumes||System Numbers|
|Acyclic (no ring)||1-4||1-449|
|Isocyclic (all-carbon ring(s))||5-16||450-2358|
|Heterocyclic (other ring(s))||17-27||2359-4720|
Beilstein covers compounds of carbon with the following elements:
H Li Be B C N O F Na Mg Si P S Cl K Ca As Se Br Rb Sr Te I Cs Ba
|Series covered||Volumes covered||Literature years covered|
|Basic Work, Suppls. 1-2||1-27||to 1929|
|Basic Work, Suppls. 1-4||1-27||to 1959|
|Suppl. 5 only||17-19 (incomplete)||1960-79|
Use the formula indexes first, because name indexes use German-language nomenclature. The oldest index set is the best first stop, because all 27 volumes of the Basic Work and first two Supplements (H-EI-EII) are covered in a single listing. The H-EI-EIV indexes are divided by volume number, so unless you know the volume number in advance or can derive it from the System, it's less efficient to check these first. (* See TIP below.) Once you do know the volume number for your compound, you can use the later indexes to locate Beilstein citations in the 3rd and 4th Supplements as well as in the earlier series. The indexes to the 5th Supplement are in English, and compound names adhere more closely to IUPAC standards.
Below is a sample Formula index listing for the compound C26H43FN2O4 , from the Formelregister of Vols. 9-11. The third entry gives the German compound name and the Handbook citation. Information on this compound will be found in volume 9 of the 3rd Supplement, page 4245. The a next to the page number refers to the first entry on that page.
C26H43ClO3 Cholan-24-säure, 3-Chlor-12-hydroxy-, äthylester 10 IV 792 C26H43Cl2NO Cholan-24-säure, 23,23-Dichlor-, äthylamid 9 IV 1994 C26H43FN2O4 Isophthalsäure, 4-Fluor-, bis- [3-dipropylamino-propylester] 9 III 4245 a C26H43NO Eicos-11-ensäure, 2-Phenyl-, amid 9 III 2921 b
*TIP: The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (older editions), the Handbook of Data on Organic Compounds, and the Aldrich Catalog can serve as alternative indexes to printed Beilstein. Many entries in these works include a Beilstein reference, which can lead you straight into the Handbook and provide a volume number for using the H-EI-EIV volume indexes.
At the top of every right-hand page are the Supplement and Volume numbers (9), the System Number, reference to the corresponding pages in the same volume number of the Basic Work, and the page number.
E III 9 Syst. Nr. 977 / H 836-837 4245 4-Fluor-isophthalsäure, bis-[3-dipropylamino-propylester], 4-fluoroisophthalic acid bis[3-dipropylamino)propyl] ester C26H43FN2O4, Formel II (X = O-[CH2]3-N(CH2-CH2CH3)2). Dihydrochlorid C26H43FN2O4.2HCl. B. Aus 4-Fluor-isophthalsäure-dichlorid und 3-Dipropylamino-propanol-(1) in Benzol (Fosdick, Calandra, Am. Soc. 65  2308). -- Krystalle (aus A. + Ae.); F: 110.
From here, older and newer series can be checked without further consultation of the indexes. Just use the volume number, System number, and Basic Work page number (H) to move back and forth in the Handbook supplements.
Information on substances contained in the Handbook includes:
The data provided are always accompanied by references to the source documents.
Some frequently used textual abbreviations: