ChemDraw:  A program to draw structures
ChemDraw is the drawing tool of choice for chemists to create publication-ready, scientifically intelligent drawings.  A chemical drawing solution that chemists across multiple chemistry disciplines trust to accurately represent organic, organometallic and polymeric materials with the ability to deal with advanced forms of stereochemistry.

How to use ChemDraw

  1. Watch the following video for a tutorial and tips for using ChemDraw: There are other useful ChemDraw videos on YouTube if you are interested.  Some are entertaining to see a skilled person use the program (like ChemDrawWizard).
  2. You need to have a UT email account ( ( to register and download ChemDraw on your own computer. ChemDraw is installed on all the lab computers if you prefer not to download it.
  3. Visit this link:
    and search for UT, I like to put in “Austin” to get it quickly.  You should create an account and after logging in, you can download and install the program. The activation code is to the left of the Download Now option
  4. Open the ChemBioDraw program which is in ChemOffice.
  5. The default size is pretty small so I suggest that you make the space larger. Under File, Page Setup, Change to “small poster” (Mine is set to 50” x 50”).
  6. On the top or left is a tool palette. This is where you choose various tools for drawing structures.
  7. Getting started. Select the single bond tool (straight line) and click in the main window.  A bond will be drawn. This is actually a line representation of ethane, CH3-CH3. Click on one end of the bond.  A second bond forms.  This would be propane, CH3-CH2-CH3. Next click on the end of a bond and instead of letting the mouse button go, drag the mouse around. This will add another carbon but it allows you to place it at a different angle.
  8. Other molecules: Next, select the six-membered ring (cyclohexane) and click in the main window.  A cyclohexane line drawing is produced. You can select the single bond tool and connect a CH3to one of the carbons of cyclohexane to make methylcyclohexane.
  9. Selecting and moving objects:Select the lasso or marquee tool and click on a molecule.  One click selects an atom or bond and double clicking selects the entire molecule.  Several molecules and objects may be selected by surrounding the objects with one of the selection tools.  The selection may be moved around by dragging it with the mouse.
  10. To make a double bond: Select the bond you would like to convert to a double bond, and by clicking on it with the single bond tool, it will change it into a double bond.  If you would like to change it back to a single bond, you may use the eraser tool to do so.  Just select the eraser tool and click on the atom or bond that you wish to erase.
  11. To add a functional group: For example, OH, hover the mouse over the atom and it will be highlighted.  Then, hit the O key and it will change to an OH. You can use this for several compounds (N for nitrogen, B for bromine, etc.).
  12. To obtain the molecular formula and molecular weight: Under the View menu, choose Show Analysis Window and another window opens.  Anything you highlight will be included in the analysis window.  This is useful when the bottle does not include the formula weight.

If you are unable to use ChemDraw, then a good alternative is MarvinSketch.

A full featured chemical editor for making science accessible on all platforms.  Marvin suite is a chemically intelligent desktop toolkit built to help you draw, edit, publish, render, import and export your chemical structures and as well as allowing you to convert between various chemical and graphical file formats.  It is free!

Download MarvinSketch here.

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