I'm here for quite a few days, but it's a disgrace that in my questions, I can't post any pictures of organic compounds, simply as I don't know how to do it. I have thus two questions related to this.

  1. Should I link an image from my device to post the structures of organic compound or is there a way to draw strictures here itself?
  2. If second option is correct, how will I do it?

I don't know whether anyone else has asked this before. If asked before, please send the link of that question before closing it as a duplicate. Thanks!

  • $\begingroup$ (CC @Mart) I dunno what we could come up with, in the future. Chemfig has the easiest implementation I reckon, but working with it is pretty troublesome and few people would do that anyway; just like how not many new users use Mathjax in their posts. Other stuff seems to be more convenient, but with a workload as heavy as hell and implementation would be buggy and hard. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @TIPS Are you talking about chemfig? That would be in the hands of the MathJax devs, and I reckon it is way too complicated to get tikz to work with the current implementation. Apart from the interface being quite tedious itself. (There is a reason why I am using ChemDraw even for my LaTeX stuff.) There are solid standalone tools that could provide an easy way to produce a scheme. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Mart seen the documentation though? It's so chick. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @tip I have barely time enough to read the documentation of the packages I need. I have to pass on that for now. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ Although a lot of good sites and methods have already been recommended or talked about, I’d like to point out at a certain alternative mentioned in the wikipedia link in the first answer below. I use Chemspider structure search. It is great tool which is very easy to use. I make the structure, take a S.S. and post my question. $\endgroup$
    – WhySee
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 3:28

3 Answers 3


To have a module allowing us to draw molecules and reactions on the site has been a feature request for many moons now: Which plugins for chemical formulas do we need? To my knowledge, there has been no recent development.

Currently the only way to include schemes is via uploading an image file to imgur via the built in dialogue. Using this interface makes sure that the images are available as long as SE is alive. (Please don't use other external sources.)

There are various possibilities how you can produce an image with the chemical structure. If you do not have a drawing program, you can always sketch it on a piece of paper, take a picture and upload it. If you do so, I would kindly ask you, to crop it to the relevant part and orient it in the correct way. (You might think that is obvious, but we have had these cases much too often already.)

If you want to use a program to draw the structures, there are many free and non-free options available. Here is a (quite old) question about the possibilities: A Chemdrawing software? Maybe something will work for you. Wikipedia has also quite a long list here. If you want to talk about this more, the chat is a good place to ask for our users opinions.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So there's no separate way of drawing or presenting the structures in SE itself....hmm...not so good... $\endgroup$
    – Aneek
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 5:54
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Aneek Give it a few more years, we just graduated a year ago. It'll take some time for the developers to come up with a stable solution, which might be helpful for more than one of the science sites. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ Chemdraw already has this software available free for the iPad. You can't save work or do most of the customary functional things with it, but there is an application already. It's been around for a few years. Marvinsketch is free (iSIS if still around) are both for PC and free as are several others. There are phone apps you can draw on and then take screenshots of. Also, I've never had to make a distinction between drawing and writing, they are the same activity in this science, an asterisk or a small arrow or label is what I consider writing questions. $\endgroup$
    – DrAzulene
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 18:44

If I need to draw the structure of something I don't know the name of, I go to Sigma-Aldrich's 'Structure Search' page, draw what I want, take a screenshot, crop in MS Paint, and post the image. The below is a random chemical I slapped together, taking all of two or three minutes from pageload to image post:

random chemical

If you know the name of what you want:

  1. Go to NIH's Cactus
  2. Enter the name of the chemical
  3. Select "GIF Image" from the drop-down
  4. Click Submit
  5. Once the page loads, right-click the link next to URL and copy

You can use the 'provide a link from the web' feature when inserting the image, by just pasting in the copied link. The below is 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane, inserted this way:


Per Martin's answer, though, this may break if NIH closes down Cactus or pulls it behind a paywall. The massive whitespace around the image is pretty annoying, too. So, you can easily just screenshot and crop as with the image from Sigma Structure Search:

1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane, cropped


Martin already pointed out that simply drawing on paper, taking a picture, cropping and uploading is already enough. And it is easy, so it is a low barrier. No question will be closed and no answer deleted for too bad drawing quality.

Thankfully, we also have users with a lot of time and a software license on their hand that periodically convert hand-drawn images into cool computerised graphics. That behaviour is encouraged, so if you feel like doing so, go ahead.

But it would be way too much for us to assume anybody could do that. So don’t worry if your drawing looks bad, that’s totally fine!

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    $\begingroup$ My OC professor alway complained about my drawings... :( $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 11:43

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