Tables for
Volume G
Definition and exchange of crystallographic data
Edited by S. R. Hall and B. McMahon

International Tables for Crystallography (2006). Vol. G, ch. 3.2, pp. 92-116
doi: 10.1107/97809553602060000734

Chapter 3.2. Classification and use of core data

S. R. Hall,a* P. M. D. Fitzgeraldb and B. McMahonc

aSchool of Biomedical and Chemical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, 6009, Australia,bMerck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey, USA, and cInternational Union of Crystallography, 5 Abbey Square, Chester CH1 2HU, England
Correspondence e-mail:

Each data item in a CIF has a unique identity and properties, and these are described in the DDL dictionary definitions. The name or tag of a data item is its primary identifier and it serves as the unique access key to a data value. Although each data item is unique, it is often closely related to other data items. These relationships, which are specified in the dictionaries using particular DDL attributes, can require certain items to be grouped into common lists, and others, because of specific relational dependencies, to be present in a CIF when another data item is used. Such relationships lead to data being classified into groups, or categories of data. The data name is chosen to be as self-descriptive of the data item as possible and contains the category name at the front. For example, data describing atom sites in a structural model have names that start with the string _atom_site and are placed into the category group of the same name. This chapter describes the rationale for the classification of crystallographic data into the existing categories used in the core dictionary.

3.2.1. Introduction

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This chapter is concerned with the classification and organization of data items defined in the core CIF dictionary (Chapter 4.1[link] ). The core dictionary, as its name suggests, is central to the definition of data items found in most CIFs. It defines the measured and derived items common to most crystallographic experiments, analyses and publications, and, in particular, those items characterizing a classical single-crystal X-ray diffraction determination of a small-molecule or inorganic structure. As the nature of crystallographic studies evolves, so do the data items needed to describe them. New data names are introduced as needed to describe new techniques or technologies or simply to provide more details of subjects already covered. In addition, the developers of specialist dictionaries may find that some of the items they define have a wider application and propose that these items be added to the core dictionary instead.

Core data items are defined with two formalisms. The core dictionary, as presented in Chapter 4.1[link] , defines core data items exclusively using the data definition language DDL1 (described in Chapter 2.5[link] ). However, core data items are also embedded within the macromolecular CIF dictionary presented in Chapter 4.5[link] using the data definition language DDL2 (described in Chapter 2.6[link] ). Because the revision cycles of the core and mmCIF dictionaries are not synchronized, at any one time the mmCIF dictionary may not include the complete set of data items in the current core dictionary. The mmCIF dictionary described in this volume includes the full content of core CIF dictionary version 2.3.1, also described in this volume.

The discussion in this chapter will concentrate on the current DDL1 version of the core dictionary (version 2.3, released on 4 October 2003 and reissued with minor amendments as version 2.3.1 in this volume). There will be some discussion of the more formal approach to the classification of data items that DDL2 permits.

In accordance with the scheme given in Table[link] , groups of categories of data items in the core dictionary will be classified under the headings Experimental measurements (Section 3.2.2[link]), Analysis (Section 3.2.3[link]), Atomicity, chemistry and structure (Section 3.2.4[link]), Publication (Section 3.2.5[link]) and File metadata (Section 3.2.6[link]). To help the reader relate the thematic order of the discussion of these categories to the alphabetic layout of the dictionary, the category structure of the core dictionary is summarized in Table[link] and is listed in full in Appendix 3.2.1[link]. The appendix also lists for each category the section of this chapter in which the category is described.

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Category groups defined in the core CIF dictionary

The groups are listed in the order in which they are described in this chapter.

SectionCategory groupSubject covered
(a) Experimental measurements[link] CELL Unit cell[link] DIFFRN Diffraction experiment[link] EXPTL Experimental conditions
(b) Analysis[link] REFINE Refinement procedures[link] REFLN Reflection measurements
(c) Atomicity, chemistry and structure[link] ATOM Atom sites[link] CHEMICAL Chemical properties and nomenclature[link] GEOM Geometry of atom sites[link] SYMMETRY Symmetry information[link] VALENCE Bond-valence information
(d) Publication[link] CITATION Bibliographic references[link] COMPUTING Computational details of the experiment[link] DATABASE Database information[link] JOURNAL Journal housekeeping[link] PUBL Contents of a published article
(e) File metadata
3.2.6[link] AUDIT Dictionary maintenance and identification

The data items contained within each category are listed in the detailed commentary below. Where relevant, the data item or items that represent a unique identifier for a looped list (`category keys') are listed first and are marked by a bullet ([\bullet]). Note that category keys are defined more formally in the mmCIF dictionary (see Chapter 2.6[link] and the discussion of categories in Section[link] ). The remaining data items in each category are listed alphabetically.

3.2.2. Experimental measurements

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Crystallographic archive files predating CIF were often constructed to serve the purposes of a particular software program or suite and stored the data generated by an experiment without providing a full record of the conditions under which the data were obtained. This is not unique to crystallography: many data formats make no provision for the metadata – information about the procedures for gathering and analysing data – that give context and in many cases significance to the numeric values. A specific goal of the design of CIF was to treat such supporting information as essential elements of the whole collection of information relating to a structure determination, rather than as optional and poorly defined metadata. There are therefore many categories in the core dictionary that relate to experimental conditions and apparatus, and these categories are discussed in this section. They include the categories in the DIFFRN group describing the traditional crystallographic diffraction experiment (typically a single-crystal laboratory-based X-ray determination, but increasingly including synchrotron experiments and experiments using other radiation types). There are also categories that describe and characterize the crystal used in the experiment and those that characterize the unit cell, since the experimental determination of the cell parameters is an essential part of the full structure-determination experiment. Crystal cell parameters and measurement conditions

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The categories describing the crystal unit cell and its determination are as follows:

CELL group

The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) CELL [Scheme scheme1]

(b) CELL_MEASUREMENT_REFLN [Scheme scheme2]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key.

The CELL category includes two groups of data names: those characterizing a crystal unit cell, and those describing the experimental conditions relating to the unit-cell determination. It is a feature of the formal definition of the category classification unit in CIF dictionaries that these may be classed within the same category, whereas the Miller indices of the reflections used in the measurement of the unit cell belong to a different category. An argument could be made for dividing the CELL category into two categories to reflect the division drawn above between the cell parameters and their determination. However, the CIF dictionaries have been designed to have as few separate categories as possible, subject to the constraint that data items that are looped together in the same list must belong to the same category.

The individual dictionary definitions of the data items in this category are unambiguous, with the possible exception of _cell_formula_units_Z, which records the number of complete chemical formula units present in the unit cell, and not the number of repetitions of the asymmetric unit. In some instances the value of Z could be less than the number of repetitions of the asymmetric unit, such as when an internally symmetric molecular unit is positioned on a symmetry element and spans multiple asymmetric units. Of course, Z can be greater than the number of repetitions of the asymmetric unit (i.e. [Z'>1]).

Note that the value associated with the data item _cell_volume is not independent, but can be derived from the other cell parameters. Within the core dictionary there are many cases of derivable items, both because they have traditionally been reported separately and because the presence of redundant information allows cross checking of the internal consistency of the data set.

Data items in the CELL_MEASUREMENT_REFLN category record details about the reflections used to determine the crystallographic cell parameters. The key items in this list are marked with bullets; all three of the h, k, l values are needed to identify a reflection. Data collection

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The categories describing data collection are as follows:

DIFFRN group
General description (§[link])
Apparatus and instrumentation before the crystal (§[link])
Apparatus and instrumentation at the crystal (§[link])
Apparatus and instrumentation after the crystal (§[link])
Intensity measurements (§[link])

The category group related to the diffraction experiment is broad and includes details of the apparatus as well as the measurements. The individual categories are grouped together according to location within the experimental setup (see Fig.[link]) or the measurement of intensities.


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Scheme of a diffraction experiment. General description

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The data items in this category are as follows:

DIFFRN [Scheme scheme3]

These data items give an overview of the diffraction experiment. They are intended to be independent of the instrument, techniques or methodology of the experiment.

The items describing the ambient environmental conditions are reasonably self-explanatory. They are often absent from a CIF, because an author has not thought it necessary to provide information for experiments conducted under `normal' conditions of room temperature and pressure, and in a standard atmosphere. However, `normal room temperature' may span a range of many degrees Kelvin and might have a non-negligible effect upon cell dimension measurements, so the temperature should be given. As there is significant variability in the ambient temperature at which laboratory experiments may be carried out, it is not appropriate to assign a default value for _diffrn_ambient_temperature, since any numeric value chosen as a default could be misconstrued as an experimentally determined value. If the ambient temperature has not been measured, an author may supply a best estimate of the ambient temperature with a suitable standard uncertainty. Alternatively, known upper and lower limits for the temperature may be given using _diffrn_ambient_temperature_lt and *_gt. The same considerations hold true for ambient pressure.

The default for _diffrn_ambient_environment may be understood as `air', although formally it is impossible in the dictionary to specify a default for a free-text field.

The _diffrn_measured_fraction_theta_* items are provided in this category as an indication of the completeness of a set of reflection measurements. They are not as general as the other items in this category, as they apply only to monochromatic X-ray diffraction experiments, and they do not reflect the way macromolecular crystallographers tend to analyse the completeness of a data set as a function of resolution. When used, they must be accompanied by the value of the monochromatic radiation wavelength _diffrn_radiation_wavelength and relate to the maximum [\theta] angle for which the measured reflection count is considered as complete ( _diffrn_reflns_theta_full).

The other textual data items are provided for comment on other aspects of the handling of the crystal prior to the intensity measurement ( _diffrn_crystal_treatment), observations on the diffraction point symmetry, systematic absences and inferred space group or superspace group relationships ( _diffrn_symmetry_description) and any other comment on the intensity measurement process as a whole that cannot be accommodated elsewhere ( _diffrn_special_details). Apparatus and instrumentation before the crystal

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) DIFFRN_ATTENUATOR [Scheme scheme5]

(b) DIFFRN_RADIATION [Scheme scheme6]


(d) DIFFRN_SOURCE [Scheme scheme8]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

Attenuator properties are described by data items in the DIFFRN_ATTENUATOR category. Where an attenuator is used to reduce the intensity of an X-ray beam, this category may be used to describe the attenuator and its scaling factor. Details of multiple attenuator settings or materials can be included and each is identified by a code. A matching code value ( _diffrn_refln_attenuator_code) appears in the list of intensities against each reflection that must be scaled by the appropriate attenuation factor. In Example[link], the intensity of the second reflection has been reduced using a zirconium attenuator and must be multiplied by 16.976 to place it on the same scale as the first (and other unattenuated intensities).

Example Attenuation of reflection intensities indicated by reference to attenuator scaling factors.

[Scheme scheme4]

The DIFFRN_RADIATION category describes the radiation used in the diffraction experiment and its experimental handling by collimation and monochromatization before it interacts with the sample. [Post-sample treatment of the radiation beam after diffraction (including passage through any analyser or collimator) is described by data items in the complementary DIFFRN_DETECTOR category.] Many of the data items in this category are descriptive. Additional information about the generation of the radiation is also found in the DIFFRN_SOURCE category.

The use of _diffrn_radiation_probe is strongly recommended as an unambiguous indicator of the probing radiation or particle type (its permitted values are x-ray, neutron, electron and gamma). The similar-sounding data name _diffrn_radiation_type allows for a more detailed description of the radiation type, such as white-beam or (using the CIF code for the Greek character α, \a) 'Cu K\a' for copper Kα radiation. In the case of monochromatic (or near-monochromatic) X-radiation, a better representation is given by the use of _diffrn_radiation_xray_symbol, which can have one of a limited number of values expressing the X-ray wavelength according to IUPAC conventions (e.g. K-L3, corresponding to the older Siegbahn notation Kα1). If this data item is used, the element used as the X-ray generator target must also be specified using the data item _diffrn_source_target. Software for reading CIFs should be aware of these two alternative representations.

If the radiation beam is monochromatic, the wavelength can be provided using _diffrn_radiation_wavelength. For a polychromatic beam, the other data items in the DIFFRN_RADIATION_WAVELENGTH category allow different wavelength components and an associated weighting factor for each component to be listed. In the list of experimental intensity measurements from a polychromatic beam (the DIFFRN_REFLN category, discussed below), each reflection has an associated _diffrn_refln_wavelength_id that must match the corresponding _diffrn_radiation_wavelength_id in this list.

The DIFFRN_SOURCE category specifies the characteristics of the radiation source in the experiment and is closely related to the DIFFRN_RADIATION category, which is concerned with the handling of the radiation beam before it reaches the specimen. (The now-deprecated data name _diffrn_radiation_source shows that there was no formal separation of the descriptions of the radiation generator and the radiation in the first release of the core dictionary.)

The general class of radiation is specified by the data name _diffrn_source, which is a free-text field. Typical entries would be 'sealed X-ray tube', 'nuclear reactor', 'synchrotron', 'spallation source', 'rotating-anode X-ray tube' or 'electron microscope'. It is clear that the category could describe non-X-ray experiments, but several of the data names within the category (e.g. _diffrn_source_target) have meanings that are specific to an X-ray experiment. New data names might be introduced if experiments using other radiation types become more common. For now, details that a user wishes to record that are not properly described by the existing data names may be stored in the _diffrn_source_details field. Apparatus and instrumentation at the crystal

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) DIFFRN_MEASUREMENT [Scheme scheme9]

(b) DIFFRN_ORIENT_MATRIX [Scheme scheme10]

(c) DIFFRN_ORIENT_REFLN [Scheme scheme11]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked with a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key.

The DIFFRN_MEASUREMENT category currently concerns specifically the mounting of the crystal and the details of the goniometer or other device on which it is mounted, with the exception of _diffrn_measurement_method, which is defined simply as the `method used to measure intensities'. In practice, for a typical single-crystal diffractometer setup this field is generally used to specify the scan type, as in Example[link], where the CIF code for the Greek character [\theta], \q, is used to indicate [\theta/2\theta] scans.

Example An indication of the scan type of a diffractometer-based experiment.

[Scheme scheme12]

The orientation matrix gives the transformation between coordinates in a crystal-centric reference frame and those referred to the diffractometer axes. The data items defined in the DIFFRN_ORIENT_MATRIX category can be used to store the values in the matrix as recorded on an individual diffractometer and a reference to the convention used (in _diffrn_orient_matrix_type). However, the reference is not by itself sufficient to understand the transformation without additional external knowledge of the convention. Authors are encouraged to provide a full description of the convention in the text field _diffrn_orient_matrix_type.

The terminology UB refers to the conventional designation of the matrix relating reciprocal space and the reference frame of a diffractometer, calculated as the product of the orientation matrix U and the material matrix B by the method of Busing & Levy (1967[link]).

The reflections used to determine the orientation matrix can be listed in the category DIFFRN_ORIENT_REFLN. As discussed above, this list is useful for analysing the results on a diffractometer of known type, but is not useful if the convention for establishing the individual terms of the orientation matrix is not known. Apparatus and instrumentation after the crystal

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The data items in this category are as follows:

DIFFRN_DETECTOR [Scheme scheme13]

The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

The DIFFRN_DETECTOR category is intended to describe the detector used to measure the scattered radiation, including any analyser and post-sample collimation. There are not many data names in this category, as it is not often necessary to know a lot about the detector beyond its make, model or name if it is made by a well known manufacturer. A record of the detector deadtime ( _diffrn_detector_dtime) and the resolution of an area detector ( _diffrn_detector_area_resol_mean) are useful details worth recording explicitly; other unusual or noteworthy details may be recorded in _diffrn_detector_details.

The deprecated items (retained for compatibility with the original release version) have been replaced by _diffrn_detector and _diffrn_detector_dtime to produce names better matched to the formal category assignment. Intensity measurements

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) DIFFRN_REFLN [Scheme scheme14]

(b) DIFFRN_REFLNS [Scheme scheme15]

(c) DIFFRN_REFLNS_CLASS [Scheme scheme16]

(d) DIFFRN_SCALE_GROUP [Scheme scheme17]

(e) DIFFRN_STANDARD_REFLN [Scheme scheme18]

(f) DIFFRN_STANDARDS [Scheme scheme19]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked with a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

The DIFFRN_REFLN category describes the measured reflections in a diffraction experiment. Example[link] shows a listing from a CAD-4 single-crystal diffractometer.

Example Listing of experimental diffraction intensities.

[Scheme scheme20]

Note that the data in this list refer to the raw measurements as acquired at the time of data collection. This is in contrast to the data in the REFLN list, which refer to the reflections after merging and scaling.

The meanings of most of the data names can be deduced by inspection of this example. Full definitions are given in the dictionary.

However, the category also contains a number of data items which are used to group blocks of reflections with additional properties described by data items in other categories. For example, a number of reflections in the list might share a common value of _diffrn_refln_scale_group_code; this value would link to a description in the DIFFRN_SCALE_GROUP category of the scaling factor that needs to be applied to this group of reflections to bring all intensities in the list on to a common scale. (For example, intensities might be obtained from individual films in a multi-film data set or from a number of separate crystals.)

Likewise, individual reflections might be marked to indicate that they were monitored as standards during the course of the experiment, using the data name _diffrn_refln_standard_code. These standard reflections may be listed separately in the DIFFRN_STANDARD_REFLN category, in which case they are labelled by _diffrn_standard_refln_code, which must have values matching those assigned in the main list of intensities.

Apart from these specific classes of reflections, the intensity data may be binned according to different criteria (e.g. for modulated structures the intensities are often partitioned into classes with the same value of [m=\textstyle\sum|m_i|], where the [m_i] are the integer coefficients indexing diffraction vectors in an n-dimensional representation). The data name _diffrn_refln_class_code is provided as a link to the different classes of reflections defined in the DIFFRN_REFLNS_CLASS category.

The DIFFRN_REFLNS category describes collective properties of the set of experimental intensity measurements and follows the convention (common elsewhere in the dictionary) of having a name very similar to the related DIFFRN_REFLN category, but using a plural form of the relevant term in the composite name. While the individual DIFFRN_REFLN entries appear in a looped list, the items in the DIFFRN_REFLNS category are not looped.

This category describes properties of the complete measurement set; descriptions of specific portions of the complete set are handled by the DIFFRN_REFLNS_CLASS category.

Several of the items that appear in this category can be derived from the contents of the DIFFRN_REFLN lists, but it is often convenient to list them separately for ease of access and as a consistency check.

Note the definition of _diffrn_reflns_number as the total number of measured intensities excluding those classed as `systematically absent' (reflections whose intensities are null as a consequence of crystallographic symmetry). There is no data item to specifically flag systematic absences (although one could assign a distinct _diffrn_refln_class_code value and define the relevant DIFFRN_REFLNS_CLASS). Because the measured diffraction data may (and often do) include reduced measurements and symmetry-equivalent reflection intensities, there is no formal way to check the value of _diffrn_reflns_number with dictionary-driven validation software. (Note that systematic absences are flagged in the structure-factor listing of the REFLN category.)

The data items in the DIFFRN_REFLNS_CLASS category record details about classes of reflections measured in the diffraction experiment. The user is free to assign classes according to arbitrary criteria; two specific cases, the marking of standard reflections and the clustering of intensities that need to be scaled by a common factor, have their own specific data items and associated categories, as discussed above. The example given in the dictionary (Example[link]) describes a one-dimensional incommensurately modulated structure, where each reflection class is defined by the number [m=\textstyle\sum|m_i|], where the [m_i] are the integer coefficients that, in addition to h, k, l, index the corresponding diffraction vector in the basis defined for the reciprocal lattice.

Example Use of the DIFFRN_REFLNS_CLASS category to specify the main and satellite reflections collected for a modulated incommensurate structure.

[Scheme scheme21]

The DIFFRN_SCALE_GROUP category records scaling factors which must be applied to specific intensities in the DIFFRN_REFLN list to bring all the measurements on to a common scale (Example[link]). The scale factor _diffrn_scale_group_I_net is the factor by which the relevant net values in the intensities list must be multiplied. The intensities to which it must be applied are those in the intensities list marked with a _diffrn_refln_scale_group_code that matches the corresponding _diffrn_scale_group_code in this category.

Example Scaling factors for reflections listed by group.

[Scheme scheme22]

The DIFFRN_STANDARD_REFLN category allows a separate tabulation of the reflections used as standards. Note that the actual measurements on these reflections are stored alongside all the other measurements in the DIFFRN_REFLN list. The results of the analysis of the standard reflections are described by the DIFFRN_STANDARDS category.

The DIFFRN_STANDARDS category describes the interval between measurements of the standard reflections and their overall intensity change (usually a decay, so that the relevant data name is _diffrn_standards_decay_%; this data item has a negative value if the final measured intensities are greater than the initial ones). The items assume a constant time interval (or number of counts) between the measurement of each standard and a single global value for the overall intensity change. If required, detailed tracking of the intensity change of individual standard reflections can be extracted from the DIFFRN_REFLN list provided the elapsed time at each measurement has been recorded ( _diffrn_refln_elapsed_time). Experimental measurements on the crystal

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The categories describing experimental conditions are as follows:

EXPTL group

The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) EXPTL [Scheme scheme23]

(b) EXPTL_CRYSTAL [Scheme scheme24]

(c) EXPTL_CRYSTAL_FACE [Scheme scheme25]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked by a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key.

The EXPTL category is rather broadly named, but in practice is used to record details about any absorption correction applied and, using _exptl_special_details, any other details of the experimental work prior to intensity measurement not specifically described by other data items (e.g. _exptl_crystal_preparation).

The data items in the EXPTL_CRYSTAL category are designed to record details of experimental measurements on the crystal or crystals used. Since it is usually the case that just one crystal is used throughout the experiment, the category is presented as if it comprises non-looped data names. However, details of a number of crystals may be looped together, in which case _exptl_crystal_id is used to identify the different crystals and acts as the category key.

When different crystals are used to collect diffraction intensities, it is likely that the intensities collected from each crystal would need to be scaled by different factors, as recorded by the DIFFRN_SCALE_GROUP category and the _diffrn_refln_scale_group_code used for each individual reflection. In these circumstances, it would be good practice to use matching values of _diffrn_refln_scale_group_code and _exptl_crystal_id, although this is not mandatory.

Note that the F(000) value, which is often calculated as the integer number of electrons in the crystal unit cell, may contain dispersion contributions and is more properly calculated as[F(000) = \big[\big(\textstyle\sum f_r\big)^2 + \big(\sum f_i\big)^2\big]^{1/2},]where [f_r] and [f_i] are, respectively, the real and imaginary parts of the scattering factors at [\theta=0] and the sum is taken over each atom in the unit cell.

The crystal colour may be given as free text using the data item _exptl_crystal_colour. Alternatively, the standardized names developed by the International Centre for Diffraction Data to classify specimen colours may be constructed from the items _exptl_crystal_colour_lustre, *_modifier and *_primary, each of which has a restricted set of specific values.

The EXPTL_CRYSTAL_FACE category records details of the crystal faces. The faces are defined by Miller indices and their perpendicular distances from the centre of rotation of the crystal may be recorded in millimetres. Absolute orientations with respect to the goniometer angle settings may also be recorded. The category is currently constructed in a way that cannot distinguish between multiple crystals.

3.2.3. Analysis

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The categories relevant to the structural analysis are as follows:

Refinement techniques and results (§[link])
REFINE group
The reflections used in the refinement (§[link])
REFLN group

In the small-molecule and inorganic studies for which the core dictionary was designed, phasing and structure solution are almost routine, and the dictionary provides few specific fields for recording the details of the structure solution process: _atom_sites_solution_primary, _atom_sites_solution_secondary and _atom_sites_solution_hydrogens (Section[link]); _computing_structure_solution (Section[link]); and _publ_section_exptl_solution (Section[link]). (In contrast, the macromolecular CIF includes extensive details of phasing.) Refinement, however, still allows for a wide range of techniques, practices and interpretation, and there are a large number of data names to allow a full account of the refinement strategy to be given. To complement this, several categories exist to provide a detailed listing and annotation of the structure factors and their treatment according to shells of resolution or other sorting criteria. Structure refinement

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) REFINE [Scheme scheme26]

(b) REFINE_LS_CLASS [Scheme scheme27]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

Example[link] shows how the data names in the REFINE category are used. Most of the dictionary entries are detailed and fully explanatory, so only a few points that might require special care are mentioned here.

Example Summary of refinement results.

[Scheme scheme28]

Two groups of older data names have been superseded by new names that are functionally equivalent, but represent a more correct terminology. One group is of names that include the component `_obs' used to indicate `observed' reflections; this has been replaced by the component `_gt' indicating that the measured values are greater than a threshold recorded elsewhere (as the value of _reflns_threshold_expression). The other group replaces the component `_esd' (for estimated standard deviation) with `_su' (for standard uncertainty).

A number of data names describe the extinction coefficient and the method used to determine it. Note that a default value ( Zachariasen) is given in the dictionary for the method ( _refine_ls_extinction_method); this only makes sense if this data item is missing from the data block but a value of _refine_ls_extinction_coef is present. This can complicate the design of software to read CIFs, which might assign to any missing data name a default value given by the dictionary.

Care is also needed with _refine_ls_hydrogen_treatment, which describes the treatment of hydrogen atoms in the refinement. Clearly, the data item only has meaning if there were hydrogen atoms in the model (although, since in this case the default value is undef for `undefined', it could be argued that the default is appropriate even when hydrogen atoms were not included in the model).

The weighting scheme used in the refinement is described by the two data names _refine_ls_weighting_scheme and _refine_ls_weighting_details. The first of the two can take only one of the three values sigma (weights assigned based on measured standard uncertainties), unit (unit or no weights applied) or calc (calculated weights applied). The actual mathematical expression used in the weighting scheme should be stated in _refine_ls_weighting_details.

A wide variety of `residual structure-factor difference measures', referred to as R factors, are used in crystallography as indicators of refinement quality. The core CIF dictionary contains definitions for the three most commonly used R factors. The `conventional R factor' is defined as[R = {{ \textstyle\sum|F({\rm meas}.)-F({\rm calc}.)|} \over {\textstyle\sum|F({\rm meas}.)|}},]where [F(\rm{meas}.)] and [F(\rm{calc}.)] are the measured and calculated structure factors, respectively. In the data item _refine_ls_R_factor_all, the sum used in the calculation is taken over all the reflections collected, whereas in the data item _refine_ls_R_factor_gt, the sum is taken over reflections with a value greater than the limit specified by _refine_threshold_expression. In both cases, the reflections included in the calculation may be limited to those between specified resolution limits.

This R factor is calculated from the F values, regardless of whether the structure-factor coefficient [|F|], [|F|^2] or I was actually used in the refinement, and is often taken as a convenient indicator of the relative quality of a structure determination. As most structure refinements used to be performed on [|F|], it allows a structure determined today to be compared with an older study.

Many refinements are now carried out on [|F|^2], although some may still use the absolute value of the structure factor $|F|$ or the net intensity I. The weighted residual factor wR and goodness of fit S for a refinement should be reported according to the coefficients actually used in the refinement. For example, the weighted residual over all reflections, _refine_ls_wR_factor_all, is defined as[wR=\Bigg({{\sum w[Y({\rm meas}.)-Y({\rm calc}.)]^2} \over {\sum wY({\rm meas}.)^2 }}\Bigg)^{1/2},]where w represents the weights and Y represents the structure-factor coefficient, either [|F|], [|F|^2] or I as specified by _refine_ls_structure_factor_coef.

This distinction between the conventional R factor, which is invariably calculated using F values, and the wR and S factors also holds for similar expressions defined on subsets of the reflections, e.g. _reflns_class_wR_factor_all.

Note that data names are also provided for reporting unweighted residuals on [|F|^2] or I, but these are rarely used in practice, with the exception of R(I) in Rietveld refinements against powder data, where it is generally called the Bragg R factor, RBragg or RB.

The data items in the REFINE_LS_CLASS category are similar to several in the general REFINE category, but correspond to values for separate reflection classes as described in the REFLNS_CLASS category. The data name _refine_ls_class_code identifies the individual classes through a direct match with a corresponding value of _reflns_class_code. Reflection measurements

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The categories describing the reflections used in the refinement are as follows:

REFLN group
Individual reflections (§[link])
Groups of reflections (§[link])

The main category in this group is REFLN, which stores the list of reflections used in the structure refinement process, their associated structure factors and information about how each reflection was handled. The distinction between the REFLN (singular) category and the REFLNS (plural) category parallels the distinction between the categories DIFFRN_REFLN and DIFFRN_REFLNS: data items in the REFLN category store information about individual reflections, while data items in the REFLNS category store information about the complete set of reflections, or about subsets of reflections selected by shells of resolution, scaling factors or other criteria. Individual reflections

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The data items in this category are as follows:

REFLN [Scheme scheme30]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked with a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

Example[link] shows a typical structure-factor listing produced by a refinement program. This kind of structure-factor listing is suitable for deposition with a journal or a database. The Miller indices for each reflection are accompanied by the calculated and measured values of the quantity used in the refinement, and the standard uncertainty derived from the measurement. There is also an indication of whether each reflection was included in the refinement and in the calculation of R factors.

Example Structure-factor listing.

[Scheme scheme29]

In this example, the squared structure factors [|F|^2] are listed. When refinement is performed against the structure factors F or the intensities I, the data items _refln_F_calc or _refln_intensity_calc and the corresponding data names for the measured values and uncertainties should be used.

Individual calculated structure-factor components [A=|F|\cos\varphi] and [B=|F|\sin\varphi] may also be listed, along with the phase [\varphi], using the data names _refln_A_calc, _refln_B_calc and _refln_phase_calc. Corresponding measured values have equivalent *_meas names.

The _refln_include_status flag is used to indicate whether reflections were used in the refinement and in the calculation of R factors, and if they were not used, to give the reason for exclusion of the reflection from the refinement. The flag o, which indicates that a reflection was used in the refinement, was originally chosen to indicate that the value of the reflection was higher than the limit specified by _reflns_observed_criterion and that the reflection was thus `observed'. The data item _reflns_observed_criterion is now deprecated in favour of _reflns_threshold_status, and the value o is now taken to indicate not only that the reflection has an intensity suitable for inclusion in the refinement, but also that the reflection satisfies all other criteria used to select reflections for inclusion in the refinement.

Various other flags indicate reflections that were not included in the refinement. Reflections outside the range of d spacings bounded by the values _refine_ls_d_res_high and _refine_ls_ d_res_low are flagged with h or l, respectively. Reflections within the resolution limits but below the intensity threshold are flagged with <. Systematically absent reflections are flagged with -. Sometimes a value can be identified as having a systematic error; these reflections can be flagged with x. However, great care must be taken in excluding reflections with apparently `anomalous' structure factors (i.e. where the measured values are substantially different from the calculated ones), so as not to introduce bias into the refinement.

The flag _refln_refinement_status is used specifically to indicate whether a reflection was included in or excluded from the refinement. Use of _refln_include_status to provide more information about each reflection is greatly preferred.

Other data names in this category allow the recording of specific information about each reflection, such as the symmetry reinforcement factor [\varepsilon], the number of reflections symmetry-equivalent under the Laue symmetry, the d spacing, the mean path length through the crystal [\smash{\bar t}], the [(\sin\theta)/\lambda] value and, in the case of Laue experiments, the mean wavelength of the radiation. (For polychromatic radiation, the wavelength information might instead be given by _refln_wavelength_id, which is a code identifying a matching entry in the DIFFRN_RADIATION category.)

Other codes provide links to identifiers in other categories. The _refln_class_code identifies a set of reflections binned as described by entries in the REFLNS_CLASS category. _refln_scale_group_code identifies groups of reflections to which the same structure-factor scaling has been applied.

Note that the values of the Miller indices in this list must correspond to the cell defined by the lengths and angles recorded in the CELL category; they may, however, be different from the Miller indices in the DIFFRN_REFLN list if a transformation of the original cell has taken place. In this case, the transformation matrix is given using the _diffrn_reflns_transf_matrix_* items.

The usual use of a CIF as an archive of a completed structure determination implies that the values given in the REFLN list are derived from the final cycle of refinement, but this is not a formal requirement. Care should be taken when preparing a CIF for archiving that the structural model corresponds to the refinement cycle summarized in the accompanying REFLN table, especially if the file is constructed from fragments output from different programs. Groups of reflections

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) REFLNS [Scheme scheme31]

(b) REFLNS_CLASS [Scheme scheme32]

(c) REFLNS_SCALE [Scheme scheme33]

(d) REFLNS_SHELL [Scheme scheme34]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked with a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

The data items in the REFLNS category describe properties or attributes of the complete set of reflections used in the structure refinement. Several are derivative and may be obtained from the information in the reflections list, but it is convenient to present them separately so that they do not need to be calculated again. They can also be used to check the consistency of the reflections list.

The _reflns_limit_* data items define the upper and lower bounds on the Miller indices and on the interplanar d spacings.

The _reflns_threshold_expression is a text field describing the criterion applied to mark individual reflections as `significantly intense' (i.e. distinct from the background level). This is typically expressed as a multiple of the standard uncertainty on the quantity used in refinement, e.g. I>2u(I).

The number of reflections with values higher than the threshold is reported in _reflns_number_gt. The total number of reflections measured is given by _reflns_number_total. Although the use of these data names appears to be obvious, different practices have been used in the past to report total numbers (e.g. by neglecting symmetry-equivalent reflections) and the definitions in the dictionary should be consulted. Both numbers may contain Friedel-equivalent reflections (those which are symmetry-equivalent under the Laue symmetry but inequivalent under the crystal class).

The proportion of Friedel-related reflections present is reported separately by _reflns_Friedel_coverage, defined as [(N_C-N_L)/N_L], where [N_C] is the number of reflections obtained on averaging under the symmetry of the crystal class and [N_L] is the number obtained on averaging under the Laue class. The definition in the dictionary provides examples of how the value of this data name may be used as an indicator of the fraction of the available reciprocal space sampled in the diffraction experiment.

The deprecated data names _reflns_observed_criterion and _reflns_number_observed reflect the old use of `observed' as a term describing significantly intense reflections. They should not be used in the creation of new CIFs, but are retained to ensure that the information can be extracted from old CIFs.

The free-text field _reflns_special_details can be used to discuss any aspects of the reflections list not covered by other data names. It is recommended that information about the averaging of symmetry-equivalent reflections (including Friedel pairs) should be given here.

The REFLNS_CLASS category is used to summarize the properties of subsets of the reflection list. The data names are analogous to several in the REFLNS and REFINE categories, but are applied to individual classes of reflections labelled by _reflns_class_code and described by _reflns_class_description (see Example[link]).

Example Description of subsets of the reflection list.

[Scheme scheme35]

Individual reflections in the structure-factor listing can be recognized through the matching value of _refln_class_code as belonging to a particular class labelled by _reflns_class_code.

Although classes can be assigned according to arbitrary criteria, the specific case for which the REFLNS_CLASS category was designed was the partitioning of the reflection list into contributions from different components in incommensurately modulated structures. However, the formalism is general and other binning strategies can be described. Note, however, that the specific case of processing of reflections by shells of resolution (in macromolecular crystallography, for example) is handled explicitly by the REFLNS_SHELL category.

The category REFLNS_SCALE provides a listing of the scale factors applied to individual reflections sharing a common value of _refln_scale_group_code. Each value is indexed by the matching identifier _reflns_scale_group_code of this category.

The REFLNS_SHELL category describes the properties of separate resolution shells of reflections and is a special case of the binning of reflections into classes (compare REFLNS_CLASS above).

Each shell is defined by an upper and lower resolution limit ( _reflns_shell_d_res_high and *_low), and for each shell there are data names for the number of reflections measured and exceeding a threshold of significance, for the percentage of geometrically possible reflections collected, and for the ratios of the mean intensities to their standard uncertainties.

Rmerge values are also defined for each shell of resolution (both for all measured reflections and for significantly intense ones).

This category also contains a number of deprecated data names reflecting older terminology and notation. Such data names should not be used in creating new CIFs, but will need to be recognized by CIF-reading software in order to process old CIFs.

3.2.4. Atomicity, chemistry and structure

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The core CIF dictionary provides many data names for describing the structural model.

The categories describing the atom sites handle these in a general way as sites of significant electron density which might be contributed to by more than one element species. The chemical identification of the compound under study, and where appropriate a model of the molecular connectivity and bonding, are handled separately by the chemistry-related categories. The geometry-related categories are purely derivative, given knowledge of the positions of the atom sites and the crystallographic symmetry; but as with other examples of derived data, they are given their own data names to provide convenient listings and to check the consistency of information provided by other categories. The symmetry-related data names in the core dictionary are restricted to those essential for the construction of a geometric model; Chapter 3.8[link] describes a symmetry extension dictionary suitable for a more complete description of crystal symmetry. Atom sites

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The categories describing atom sites are as follows:

ATOM group
Individual atom sites (§[link])
Collections of atom sites (§[link])
Atom types (§[link])

These categories permit the traditional interpretation of regular concentrations of electron density in a crystalline lattice as atom sites containing one or more chemical elements, with complete or partial occupancy, and with a spatial distribution affected by thermal displacement or disorder.

Lists of atom-site coordinates and anisotropic displacement factors are covered by data items in the ATOM_SITE category. Identification of the chemical species occupying each site is handled by data items in the ATOM_TYPE category and data items in the ATOM_SITES category record collective information common to all sites.

While the ATOM_SITE category formally contains the data items describing both positions and atomic displacements, the anisotropic displacement parameters are often given in a separate looped list. In the version of the core dictionary embedded in the macromolecular CIF dictionary, which uses the DDL2 formalism, this is recognized by the creation of a separate, but overlapping, ATOM_SITE_ANISOTROP category. Individual atom sites

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The data items in this category are as follows:

ATOM_SITE [Scheme scheme36]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. For this category an alternative category key can be formed by taking all the_atom_site_label_component_* items together. Anisotropic displacement parameters may also be listed in a separate loop, for which _atom_site_aniso_label forms the key. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

Data items in the ATOM_SITE category represent the positions of atom sites identified in the structural model, their spatial distribution defined by isotropic or anisotropic displacement parameters, details of restraints or constraints applied during the refinement, and the interpretation of their occupancy due to structural or compositional disorder.

Example[link] is a typical extract from a list of atom-site coordinates, with equivalent isotropic displacement values and refinement conditions. Each site is identified by _atom_site_label.

Example List of atom-site coordinates, equivalent isotropic U values and refinement conditions.

[Scheme scheme37]

The coordinates are specified as fractional x, y, z values along the unit-cell axes. Coordinates may also be specified in ångström units along orthogonal Cartesian axes using the data names _atom_site_Cartn_x, _atom_site_Cartn_y and _atom_site_Cartn_z. The transformation matrix between Cartesian and fractional coordinates can be given in the ATOM_SITES category.

(Note that occupancy values are unaffected by symmetry. This is discussed later in connection with site multiplicity.)

_atom_site_U_iso_or_equiv records the isotropic atomic displacement value Uiso in the case of isotropic refinement. In the case of anisotropic refinement, _atom_site_U_iso_or_equiv records the equivalent isotropic value Ueq, defined as[U_{\rm eq} = (1/3)\textstyle\sum_i\big[\sum_j (U^{ij}a_i^*a_j^*a_ia_j)\big],]where [a_i] are the real-space cell lengths, [a^*_j] are the reciprocal-space cell lengths and [U^{ij}] are the anisotropic displacement parameters.

The data item _atom_site_adp_type identifies which value is given. An alternative equivalent isotropic displacement parameter _atom_site_U_equiv_geom_mean may be calculated as the geometric mean of the anisotropic parameters,[U_{\rm eq}=(U_iU_jU_k)^{1/3}, ]where the [U_i] are the principal components of the orthogonalized [U^{ij}].

Data names also exist for the corresponding quantities calculated from B values, although the use of B values is discouraged by the IUCr Commission on Crystallographic Nomenclature.

For each site, _atom_site_calc_flag takes one of the following values: d, to indicate that the atom-site coordinates were determined from the diffraction intensities; c or calc to indicate that they were calculated from molecular geometry considerations; or dum, for a dummy site.

Specific restraints or constraints applied to a site may be indicated by one or more of the _atom_site_refinement_flags_* items.

The data item _atom_site_occupancy defines the fraction of the atom type present at the site. Note that the same site may occur more than once in the list, identified by separate values of _atom_site_label. Such an arrangement would represent contributions from separate atom types (perhaps in modelling compositional disorder). The sum of occupancies of all atom types present at a single site may not significantly exceed 1.0 (unless it is a dummy site with no physical significance). Note that an atom of a given chemical species positioned on a special position (e.g. on a twofold axis) will in general be assigned a full occupancy value of 1.0. However, it will occur less often in the unit cell than an atom on a general position (in this example by a factor of 2). To account for this in structure-factor calculations it may be given a population value of 0.5 within the refinement program. A population adjustment of this kind is not implied in the assignment of a value to _atom_site_occupancy. The multiplicity of the site owing to the space-group symmetry can be recorded in _atom_site_symmetry_multiplicity.

The disorder-related data names in this example will be discussed below.

_atom_site_type_symbol is a code which must match an entry in the ATOM_TYPE category that supplies information about the elemental composition and scattering factors of the atom or atoms occupying the site. Note that it is quite legitimate to have an atom-type symbol such as `Fe3+Ni2+', referring to a mixed-composition atom site. The effective physical properties of such a pseudo-atom should be given in full in the ATOM_TYPE category.

Example[link] demonstrates how the anisotropic displacement parameters are conventionally broken out into a separate list. When this is done, each atom site is identified by _atom_site_aniso_label, and this must of course match the value of _atom_site_label specifying the position of the site.

Example Separate list of anisotropic U values with _atom_site_aniso_label acting as the key that uniquely identifies table rows in this listing.

[Scheme scheme38]

The data item _atom_site_label is normally used as the identifier of each individual atom site in a list of coordinates and atomic displacement factors. Historically, the labels given to atom sites have been chosen to summarize useful information about the atom located at the site. Almost invariably the label contains the symbol of the chemical element or elements occupying the site; there may also be indicators of charge, valence, chemical connectivity, disorder, occupation of a site of crystallographic symmetry or grouping within a component of secondary structure within large molecules. In a CIF, it is formally sufficient that atom-site labels are unique, as all the information about composition, valence, connectivity and so on can be extracted from the data items designed specifically to record this information. However, it is preferable that an atom-site label should summarize the relevant features of the site. Many styles and conventions for labelling atoms are in use in crystallography, so to enable interchange with other crystallographic data file formats, the core dictionary contains a detailed but highly flexible set of rules for constructing and parsing atom-site labels.

Labelling atom sites in crystallography usually serves two distinct purposes: (a) to identify the site in the molecule and crystal, and (b) to identify the chemical element that occupies that site. The core dictionary makes this distinction clear by defining ATOM_SITE and ATOM_TYPE as separate data categories. The connection between the two categories is made through the equivalence of the data items _atom_site_type_symbol (in the ATOM_SITE list) and _atom_type_symbol (in the ATOM_TYPE list). Often, however, crystallographers use a single label _atom_site_label to define both the site and the chemical species occupying it.

The _atom_site_label may be composed of as many as eight separate components; the recommended convention for construction of the string is as follows.

Component 0 [optionally identical to a value of _atom_type_symbol] (mandatory): A character string containing any character except a blank or an underline, with the proviso that each digit `0'–`9' is used only to designate an oxidation state and, as such, must be followed by a plus `+' or a minus `-' character. It is recommended that the element symbols be used when applicable. Examples of permissible codes are: Cu, Cu2+, dummy, Fe3+Ni2+, S-, H*, H(SDS).

Component 1 [atom number code] (optional): This string may contain any alphanumeric character except a blank or an underline, but the first character must be a digit `0'–`9' and the second character may not be a plus `+' or a minus `-'. Component 1 is intended primarily to differentiate sites containing the same atom type, but it can be used for any purpose. Examples of combined component 0 and 1 codes are: C1, C103g28, Fe3+17b, H*251, boron2a, Ni2+2, Fe2+Ni2+2, where component 0 is in bold to indicate how these labels are parsed.

Component 2 [residue code] (optional): This string may contain any character except a blank or underline. It is intended primarily to give specific structural information such as the molecular fragment or amino-acid type, e.g. C1_gly, O1_SO4. If component 2 is present, it is separated from the concatenated components 0 and 1 with an underline character.

Components 3–7 [sequence, remoteness, chain order, alternate, footnote codes] (optional): These strings may contain any character except a blank or an underline. The underline character is used to separate the individual components. The names associated with the separate components suggest their roles in constructing composite labels that match the conventions of site labelling in the PDB format for macromolecular structure files. However, they are not restricted to these functions and may be used in other ways.

Component 0 is normally identical to an _atom_type_symbol code in the ATOM_TYPE list. However, if it is not, an _atom_site_type_symbol code must appear in the ATOM_TYPE list in order to identify the atom type. In these cases, component 0 may contain any code consistent with the rules given in the dictionary. Thus, component 0 could be Ca to identify an alpha carbon, provided that the _atom_site_type_symbol is encoded as C to indicate that the atom type is carbon.

Multiple occupation of a single atom site by different atom species (compositional disorder) may be handled simply by having multiple values of _atom_site_label referring to the same site in the crystal structure. Alternatively, multiple occupancy of an atom site may be denoted by a unique character or characters in component 0 of the atom label, with the ATOM_TYPE list containing the equivalent pseudo element label entry with values that are weighted averages of those for the constituent elements. The proportions of the atom types should then be defined using _atom_type_description.

This _atom_site_label construction is flexible, visually decipherable and well suited to computer applications. The components can be easily identified and stripped with a single pass, from left to right, along the label string. Note that the underline separators are only used if higher-order components exist. If intermediate components are not used they may be omitted provided the underline separators are retained. For example, the label C233_ _ggg is acceptable and contains the components 0: C, 1: 233, 2: null and 3: ggg. There is no requirement that the same number of components should be used in each label.

The _atom_site_label may be replaced by separate data items specifying the individual components of an atom label; this may be useful for large lists of site coordinates, for example in a macromolecular structure, where site-labelling components follow a systematic convention and where subsets of the atom sites need to be searched for or extracted using individual label components. Such uses are not common in files built with core CIF data names; the mmCIF dictionary identifies substructural components in biological macromolecules by alternative techniques (Section 3.6.7[link] ).

There is no comparable fragmentation of the components of _atom_site_aniso_label. Where separate lists of anisotropic displacement parameters use complex atom-site labels, either the coordinate list should use _atom_site_label alone or the processing software needs to be able to construct a value for _atom_site_label from the separate components _atom_site_label_component_* in order to test the equivalence between the labels in the coordinates and anisotropic displacement parameters lists.

While either atom-labelling technique is permitted, it is recommended that the individual label components are not used unless there is an overwhelming argument to do so.

Information about the molecular model is sometimes embedded in a labelling convention. In CIF, this information is usually expressed through other data items.

The connectivity of a molecule is described by the CHEMICAL group of categories, and more specifically through the CHEMICAL_CONN_ATOM and CHEMICAL_CONN_BOND categories.

The link between atom sites in the coordinate list and the corresponding atoms in the molecular model is established using the data item _chemical_conn_atom_number in the CHEM_CONN_ATOM category, and the data items _chemical_conn_bond_atom_1 and _chemical_conn_bond_atom_2 in the CHEMICAL_CONN_BOND category. The values of these data items must match values for the data item _atom_site_chemical_conn_number in the ATOM_SITE list. Example[link] shows an extract from a connectivity table; a more complete version of this table is given in the relevant category descriptions in the dictionary.

Example Chemical connectivity table; atoms are linked back to atom-site positions through matching values of _atom_site_chemical_conn_number and _chemical_conn_atom_number.

[Scheme scheme39]

Note that there is no guarantee that the refined atom-site coordinates that characterize the asymmetric unit will correspond to locations within a single connected molecular species. Crystal symmetry transformations may need to be applied to individual sites in order to map the contents of a connected molecular residue to real space in the unit cell. There is no provision in the CHEMICAL_CONN categories for the specification of these symmetry transformations; thus these higher-order molecular geometries are best described using data items in the GEOM categories, which do allow for the specification of symmetry transformations.

It may also be the case that not all atom positions have been located; this is particularly true for hydrogen atoms, and the data item _atom_site_attached_hydrogens is provided for book-keeping purposes to indicate hydrogen atoms known to be bonded to an atom but whose positions have not been refined (or calculated).

Example[link] shows how the disorder of a group of bonded atoms over a set of atom sites (occupational disorder) is described. In this example of a disordered tetrafluoroborate anion, the data item _atom_site_disorder_assembly takes the value A, and the data item _atom_site_disorder_group takes the values 1 and 2, indicating the two alternative positions of the disordered group.

Example Handling of occupational disorder of atom sites.

[Scheme scheme40]

The remaining items in this category are clearly described in their individual dictionary entries. However, the now-deprecated data item _atom_site_refinement_flags should be mentioned. This was allowed to take values obtained by concatenating one or more of the single-letter flags:

. no refinement constraints;

S special-position constraint on site;

G rigid-group refinement of site;

R riding-atom site attached to non-riding atom;

D distance or angle restraint on site;

T thermal displacement constraints;

U Uiso or Uij restraint (rigid bond);

P partial occupancy constraint.

These individual flags are listed in the dictionary using the DDL field _enumeration, which denotes a list of mutually exclusive permitted values. As concatenation of values is allowed here, dictionary-based software must be modified to handle this data item as a special case. To avoid the need for this in future, the data item was marked as deprecated from version 2.3 of the dictionary, and is replaced by the three separate items _atom_site_refinement_flags_posn, *_adp and *_occupancy. For each of these, the relevant combinations of refinement flags are fully enumerated (for example _atom_site_refinement_flags_adp may take any one of the values T, U or TU). This logically separates the different types of refinement constraints or restraints that an author might want to record and allows software to parse the data item. Collections of atom sites

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The data items in this category are as follows:

ATOM_SITES [Scheme scheme41]

This category records information that applies collectively to the atom sites of the structural model. At present, the topics covered are the transformation matrix between Cartesian and cell fractional coordinates, and the methods used to locate the initial atom sites. _atom_sites_solution_primary describes how the first atom sites were determined, _atom_sites_solution_secondary describes how the remaining non-hydrogen sites were located and _atom_sites_solution_hydrogens describes how hydrogen atoms were located. The codes that are allowed for each of these refer to distinct solution methods, and at present only the seven formal values listed below are provided (although other values might be added in the future):

difmap difference-electron-density map;

vecmap real-space vector search;

heavy heavy-atom method;

direct structure-invariant direct methods;

geom inferred from neighbouring sites;

disper anomalous-dispersion techniques;

isomor isomorphous structure methods. Atom types

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The data items in this category are as follows:

ATOM_TYPE [Scheme scheme42]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key.

The data items in this category record details about the atomic species associated with each occupied atom site in the structural model. While these will typically be standard properties of the naturally occurring chemical elements, they may also be synthetic atom types, for example in cases where a single atom site may be occupied with partial occupancies by atoms of different elements.

As mentioned in Section[link], there are two ways of dealing with such a case: the same location in the coordinate list may be populated by multiple entries, each for an atom of a particular element with an associated occupancy fraction; or a single entry may be made for the synthetic atom type, the properties of which are described fully in the ATOM_TYPE list.

Each different atom type has a unique _atom_type_symbol identifier. In principle, this could be any string of characters, but the dictionary recommends certain conventions to encourage compatibility with the atom-site labelling rules. It is recommended that the identifier be the normal chemical element symbol when the atom type is a pure element. If some other labelling is used, the identifier may be composed of any character except an underline, with the additional proviso that digits designate an oxidation state and must be followed by a `+' or `-' character.

The data item _atom_type_scat_versus_stol_list can be used to give a table of scattering factors as a function of [(\sin\theta)/\lambda]. This is a text field with no specified internal structure, except the suggestion that it is well commented and the lists should be regularly formatted. However, it is generally enough to list the atomic scattering factors of each element and to provide a reference to the source of the values, as in Example[link].

Example Reference to atomic scattering factors.

[Scheme scheme43] Chemical identification and connectivity information

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The categories describing chemical identity and connectivity are as follows:

Chemical identification (§[link])
Chemical connectivity (§[link])

As indicated in Section[link], the chemical interpretation of the coordinate list of regions of significant electron density is not always easy. Occupational and compositional disorder, symmetry-equivalent locations, and unrefined atom sites all contribute to the difficulties, but it is usually possible in modern studies to construct a sensible chemical model. The CHEMICAL category group provides the data names needed to describe the chemical identity and properties of the material characterized in the structural study. Chemical identification

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) CHEMICAL [Scheme scheme44]

(b) CHEMICAL_FORMULA [Scheme scheme45]

The CHEMICAL category itself deals with the large-scale chemical properties of the compound from which the crystal under study was formed: its various formal and common names, its source, melting point, decomposition and sublimation temperatures (as experimentally determined values, or as upper or lower possible values if not measured directly), its biological or physical properties, and where applicable the absolute configuration and optical rotation.

The optical rotation in solution may be reported using the data name _chemical_optical_rotation by an expression of the form[[\alpha]^T_W = \pm {100\alpha\over lc} \qquad(c=CONC, {\rm SOLV}),]where [[\alpha]^T_W] is the signed optical rotation in degrees at temperature T and wavelength labelled by code W, l is the length of the optical cell, CONC is the concentration of the solution (given as the mass of the substance in g in a standard 100 ml of solution), and SOLV is the chemical formula of the solvent. This can be marked up within the constraints of the ASCII character set to which CIF is restricted as [\a]^25^~D~ = +108 (c = 3.42, CHCl~3~), where the measurement is taken using the D line of the atomic spectrum of sodium.

Data items in the CHEMICAL_FORMULA category describe the chemical formula and formula mass of the compound under study. The quoted formula must reflect the overall stoichiometry of the crystal under study, and must, when multiplied by the Z value _cell_formula_units_Z, account for the total contents of the unit cell.

A number of data names are provided to account for different conventions in the presentation of chemical formulae. _chemical_formula_analytical is appropriate for a gross formula determined by standard chemical analysis, including all trace elements identified in the sample. Standard uncertainties on the proportions of elements present are acceptable, e.g. [Scheme scheme46] _chemical_formula_sum is another aggregate formula, in which all discrete bonded residues and ions are summed over the constituent elements. Where appropriate, the formulae of separate residues of a complex may be described by _chemical_formula_moiety, in which the formula for each moiety is supplied as a sum of the individual elements within the moiety, or by _chemical_formula_structural, in which sub-components within individual moieties are further identified, so that the overall expression permits the identification of particular bonded groups. Within these formula expressions, certain rules must be observed to allow parsing by software. The final data item relating to the chemical formula, _chemical_formula_iupac, is for formulae that are constructed according to the rules of the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry.

The ordering and notation rules are explained n detail in the dictionary, but are repeated here for convenience. Within each group of atoms for which a formula is present:

(i) only recognized element symbols may be used;

(ii) each element symbol is followed by a `count' number (`1' is implicit and may be omitted);

(iii) a space or parenthesis must separate each cluster of (element symbol + count);

(iv) where a group of elements is enclosed in parentheses, the multiplier for the group must follow the closing parentheses. That is, all element and group multipliers are assumed to be printed as subscripted numbers. (An exception to this rule exists for _chemical_formula_moiety, where pre- and post-multipliers are permitted for molecular units.)

(v) Unless the elements are ordered in a manner that corresponds to their chemical structure, as in _chemical_formula_structural, the order of the elements within any group or moiety depends on whether or not carbon is present. If carbon is present, the order should be: C, then H, then the other elements in alphabetical order of their symbol. If carbon is not present, the elements are listed purely in alphabetic order of their symbol. This is the `Hill' system used by Chemical Abstracts. This ordering is used in _chemical_formula_moiety and _chemical_formula_sum.

For _chemical_formula_moiety some additional rules apply:

(i) Moieties are separated by commas, `,'.

(ii) The order of elements within a moiety follows the general rules outlined above as the `Hill' system.

(iii) Parentheses are not used within moieties but may surround a moiety. Parentheses may not be nested.

(iv) Charges should be placed at the end of the moiety. The charge `+' or `-' may be preceded by a numerical multiplier and should be separated from the last (element symbol + count) by a space. Pre- or post-multipliers may be used for individual moieties.

Example[link] illustrates the differences between some of these data items.

Example Different representations of a chemical formula.

[Scheme scheme49] Chemical connectivity

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) CHEMICAL_CONN_ATOM [Scheme scheme47]

(b) CHEMICAL_CONN_BOND [Scheme scheme48]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked with a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item.

The CHEMICAL_CONN_ATOM category labels the chemical atoms in a connected representation of the molecular species and can also give the coordinates for the atoms in a two-dimensional chemical diagram (Example[link]). Each atom may also carry an indication of the number of connected non-hydrogen atoms (*_NCA) and the number of hydrogen atoms (*_NH) to which it is connected. Together with the CHEMICAL_CONN_BOND category, the data items in the CHEMICAL_CONN_ATOM category provide a basic description of the chemical structure. Although the description of the chemical structure provided in these two categories is not as extensive as the information that may be conveyed in a molecular information file (Chapter 2.4[link] ), it should allow a substructure to be searched for in a suitable database.

Example Representation of a two-dimensional chemical diagram.

[Scheme scheme50]

The CHEMICAL_CONN_BOND category lists pairs of atoms that contribute to chemical bonds and describes the nature of the bond between them (Example[link]). Taken with data items in the CHEMICAL_CONN_ATOM category, data items in this category complete the basic description of a molecular entity.

Example Bond types in a chemical connectivity table.

[Scheme scheme51]

Bond types are assigned from a list that specifies single, double, triple, quadruple, aromatic, polymeric, delocalized double and π bonds. These are not intended to cover all possible cases, but to characterize a molecular model suitable for database substructure searching. Molecular or packing geometry

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The categories describing geometry are as follows:

GEOM group

The molecular and packing geometry can be calculated fully given the unit-cell parameters, the space group and a list of atom sites. Therefore, all the information about geometry in the GEOM category group is derivative. However, it is useful to record it within the file both as a check on the primary information stored in other categories and as a method for flagging values to be published. Contents of the geometry-related categories

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) GEOM [Scheme scheme52]

(b) GEOM_ANGLE [Scheme scheme53]

(c) GEOM_BOND [Scheme scheme54]

(d) GEOM_CONTACT [Scheme scheme55]

(e) GEOM_HBOND [Scheme scheme56]

(f) GEOM_TORSION [Scheme scheme57]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. Where multiple items within a category are marked with a bullet, they must be taken together to form a compound key. *_symmetry_* items have a default value and may be omitted from the list. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item.

Most categories within this group record distances or angles specified by atom-site labels and are well characterized. The GEOM category currently provides the single data name _geom_special_details in which any other details of the geometry that an author considers noteworthy may be stored. Examples of information that might be stored in this data item are least-squares equations of planes, out-of-plane distances, dihedral angles between planes and general comments about the calculation of standard uncertainties.

A subtlety in the geometry-related categories arises from the need to record geometric relationships that involve atoms that are not listed in the ATOM_SITE coordinate list, but that can be derived from the coordinates in this list by the application of a crystallographic symmetry transformation. Thus atom sites in the geometry lists are identified both by their atom-site labels (which must identically match one of the entries in the ATOM_SITE list) and by the code for the symmetry transformation that has been applied to the initial location. Since the atom-site labels may refer to atoms in their original location as well as to atoms in symmetry-related locations, the formal key for these categories involves the site labels as well as the symmetry codes. However, in many cases (as discussed further below) the symmetry codes may be absent from a list, and a parser must supply suitable default or null values for the missing components when constructing or checking a complete key.

In many cases, interest is focused on intramolecular distances and angles, and on intramolecular contacts within a single asymmetric unit. In such cases, the geometry lists would contain only atoms listed explicitly in the ATOM_SITE list and the symmetry codes all refer trivially to the identity transformation.

The examples in this section demonstrate various ways of handling geometry lists with trivial or non-trivial symmetry transformations. In Example[link], showing treatment of bond angles, the relevant data items (_geom_angle_site_symmetry_*) are absent, which is one method for indicating the identity transformation. Dictionary validation software must therefore be able to handle both the presence and absence of these components of the formal category key.

Example List of bond angles.

[Scheme scheme58]

The symmetry transformations in this and related categories take the form of codes 'n klm' or n_klm, where n refers to the symmetry operation that is applied to the coordinates stored in _atom_site_fract_x, _atom_site_fract_y and _atom_site_fract_z. The value of n must match a number given in _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id. k, l and m refer to the translations that are subsequently applied to the symmetry-transformed coordinates to generate the atom used in calculating the contact. These translations (x, y, z) are related to (k, l, m) by[ k = 5 + x, \qquad l = 5 + y, \qquad m = 5 + z.]

By adding 5 to the translations, the use of negative numbers is avoided. As an example, the symmetry code 7_645 means that the symmetry operation with label `7' in the _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id list is applied and the resulting position is translated +1.0 × a along the x axis, −1.0 × b along the y axis and 0.0 × c along the z axis, where a, b and c are the unit-cell edges.

List entries with a _geom_angle_publ_flag value of yes are those that should be published.

The GEOM_BOND category records intramolecular bond distances. In Example[link], all the atoms are untransformed and are at the positions given in the ATOM_SITE list. The symmetry code is 1_555, where the trivial symmetry operation x, y, z is numbered `1' by _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id.

Example List of bonds.

[Scheme scheme59]

The GEOM_CONTACT category records nonbonded interatomic contacts. In Example[link], all the atoms are untransformed and are at the positions given in the ATOM_SITE list, and therefore the symmetry codes all have the value ` .' (meaning `inapplicable'). This is another method for indicating the identity transformation.

Example List of nonbonded interatomic contacts.

[Scheme scheme60]

The GEOM_HBOND category records details about hydrogen bonds. Unlike other categories in the GEOM group, the GEOM_HBOND category records information about both distances and angles, including donor–acceptor, donor–hydrogen and acceptor–hydrogen distances and the included angle at the hydrogen-atom site (see Example[link]). The comments above about the interpretation of symmetry codes and their relevance in the formal assignment of the category key also apply to this category.

Example List of hydrogen-bond distances and angles.

[Scheme scheme61]

Note that, strictly speaking, this category should only be populated if coordinates for the hydrogen atom are available (because the mandatory component of the category key _geom_hbond_atom_site_label_H needs a parent label in the atom-site list). In practice, hydrogen bonds can be assumed between donor atoms and acceptors even if the hydrogen atom is not specifically located.

The items in the GEOM_TORSION category describe the torsion angle in degrees generated for the bonded sequence of four atom sites identified by the _geom_torsion_atom_site_label_* codes. As with other geometry-specific site labels, these must match labels specified as _atom_site_label in the atom list. The torsion angle definition is that of Klyne & Prelog (1960[link]).

Example[link] includes two sites that have been generated by crystallographic symmetry operations and lattice translations from the parent sites in the atom list.

Example List of torsion angles.

[Scheme scheme62] Symmetry and space-group information

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The categories describing symmetry are as follows:

Original symmetry categories (§[link])
Replacement symmetry categories (§[link])

The SPACE_GROUP and older SYMMETRY categories contain information about the symmetry of the crystal; specifically the space group and the symmetry-equivalent positions for that space group. More information about the symmetry is available in the symCIF dictionary described in Chapter 3.8[link] and presented in Chapter 4.7[link] . The categories SPACE_GROUP and SPACE_GROUP_SYMOP were imported from symCIF in version 2.3 of the core dictionary, and are intended to replace the SYMMETRY and SYMMETRY_EQUIV categories. In most cases, there are strict equivalences between data items in the two sets. The new categories have been adopted for greater compatibility with future expansions to the symmetry CIF dictionary, and to correct some potentially misleading practices in the original categories. Although all the data items in SYMMETRY and SYMMETRY_EQUIV_POS are now formally marked as deprecated, it is likely that the older data items will remain in circulation for some time. Data items in SYMMETRY and related categories

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The data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) SYMMETRY [Scheme scheme63]

(b) SYMMETRY_EQUIV [Scheme scheme64]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. In practice _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id is often absent from older CIFs. The dagger ([\dagger]) indicates a deprecated item, which should not be used in the creation of new CIFs.

The data items in the SYMMETRY category (now superseded by SPACE_GROUP) were used to record the space group. The Hermann–Mauguin (H-M) symbol was given by _symmetry_space_group_name_H-M. The dictionary definition recommended the use of the `full' H-M symbol as listed in International Tables for Crystallography Volume A , but was not explicit about the meaning of `full'. The dictionary examples showed short-form symbols expanded to a complete representation of individual symmetry elements; thus Pnnn would be given as 'P 2/n 2/n 2/n', and the monoclinic space group [P2_1/m] would be given as 'P 1 21/m 1' for the b-axis unique setting or 'P 1 1 21/m' for the c-axis unique setting.

In practice, abbreviated symbols were often used, following conventions established over many years; thus 'P 21/m' was often given as the Hermann–Mauguin symbol when the `usual' b setting of a monoclinic cell had been chosen. It is recommended that these conventions should continue to be followed when the new data item _space_group_name_H-M_alt is used instead.

The dictionary examples also suggested concise ways of indicating the origin choice within the _symmetry_space_group_name_H-M field; since there is no formal description of how to do this, different authors used different wording. Hence, _symmetry_space_group_name_H-M was always best considered as a container for the representation of the space group that would appear in a published article, and not as a machine-readable source of information about the crystallographic symmetry.

The two mechanisms for conveying the symmetry transformations in a fully machine-readable form were the Hall symbol _symmetry_space_group_name_Hall (Hall, 1981a[link],b[link]; Hall & Grosse-Kunstleve, 2001[link]) and a complete listing of the symmetry operations using data items in the SYMMETRY_EQUIV category.

The data item _symmetry_cell_setting indicates the crystal system, not (as suggested by its name) the setting used.

The SYMMETRY_EQUIV category, now superseded by SPACE_GROUP_SYMOP, provided a list of symmetry-equivalent positions in algebraic notation. Formally, _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id acted as a category key, with any arbitrary numeric value that uniquely identifies each operator. Historically, the earliest versions of the core dictionary did not have such an identifier at all and the separate equivalent positions were indexed by their position in the _symmetry_equiv_pos_as_xyz list. This interpretation was vulnerable to inadvertent re-ordering of the list of equivalent positions, and for this reason, as well as to satisfy the formal need for a category key, _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id was added (Example[link]). For compatibility with software that was written to handle the earlier arrangement, it is recommended that _symmetry_equiv_pos_site_id gives sequential integer labels, starting with 1, to the equivalent positions in the sequence in which they appear in the CIF.

Example A list of symmetry-equivalent positions.

[Scheme scheme65]

Note that the _symmetry_equiv_pos_as_xyz list must contain all symmetry-equivalent positions of the space group, including those generated by lattice centring and a centre of symmetry, if present. Data items in SPACE_GROUP and related categories

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Data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) SPACE_GROUP [Scheme scheme66]

(b) SPACE_GROUP_SYMOP [Scheme scheme67]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key.

The data items in the SPACE_GROUP category record the space group and crystal system. They recognize the common practice of supplying the space group in Hermann–Mauguin notation, though the H-M symbol does not contain complete information about the symmetry and the space-group origin. _space_group_name_H-M_alt allows the use of any legitimate H-M symbol as listed in International Tables for Crystallography Volume A or derived by similar principles. It does not give rigorous direction on how the symbols should be presented. It is recommended that the use of this symbol in CIFs containing articles for publication should follow the guidelines for _symmetry_space_group_name_H-M (Section[link]).

Because a given space-group type may be described by more than one Hermann–Mauguin symbol, the space-group type should be specified by the use of _space_group_IT_number.

Two mechanisms exist for conveying fully machine-readable descriptions of the symmetry transformations relevant to the space group and setting. The first is the Hall symbol (Hall, 1981a[link],b[link]; Hall & Grosse-Kunstleve, 2001[link]), which uniquely defines the space group and its reference to a particular coordinate system; it is specified in the data item _space_group_name_Hall. Alternatively, the symmetry operations may be listed in full using data items in the SYMMETRY_EQUIV category.

The SPACE_GROUP_SYMOP category provides a list of the symmetry operators for a space group in algebraic notation. It replaces the category SYMMETRY_EQUIV_POS. Unlike the older category, where in practice the category key could be omitted from listings (and must therefore be generated implicitly by parsing software), the category key _space_group_symop_id must be given. See Example[link], which may be compared with Example[link].

Example A list of symmetry operators using data items from the SPACE_GROUP_SYMOP category.

[Scheme scheme68] Bond-valence information

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Categories describing bond valences are as follows:


Data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) VALENCE_PARAM [Scheme scheme69]

(b) VALENCE_REF [Scheme scheme70]

The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item.

The data items in this category group relate to bond valences, which are widely used in inorganic crystallography to confirm and analyse the results of crystal structure determinations. Bond valences are determined from the bond lengths and have the useful property that their sum around any atom is equal to the atom valence (formal charge). They are increasingly being published with bond lengths. The data item _geom_bond_valence in the GEOM_BOND category allows the bond valence to be associated with the bond length.

The two categories discussed here list the parameters used to calculate the bond valences and their literature sources. These items might also be published, particularly where there is some uncertainty about the appropriate parameters to use.

The data items in the VALENCE_PARAM category define the parameters used for calculating bond valences from bond lengths. In addition to the parameters, a pointer to the reference for the source of the parameters (in VALENCE_REF) is given (Example[link]).

Example A list of bond-valence parameters.

[Scheme scheme71]

3.2.5. Publication

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As an archival file format, CIF is well suited to the complete documentation of a structural study and the categories described in this section provide data items suitable for the generation of a fully documented report, either as an informal laboratory notebook document or as a formal published article. Literature citations

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The categories describing literature citations are as follows:


The entries in the CITATION category group provide a set of data items suitable for the structured recording of references to the literature. At present, they are designed for the storage and retrieval of information about journal articles and individual chapters in books. They do not currently cover conference proceedings, pamphlets, preprints, theses or other kinds of publication. Reference lists are usually requested by journals that accept articles in CIF format as a single text field in _publ_section_references, but the categories in the CITATION group may become more useful for storing citation lists in the future, especially if converters become available to and from other bibliographic formats such as EndNote and [{\rm Bib}\hbox{\TeX}].

Data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) CITATION [Scheme scheme72]

(b) CITATION_AUTHOR [Scheme scheme73]

(c) CITATION_EDITOR [Scheme scheme74]

The bullet ([\bullet]) indicates a category key. The arrow ([\rightarrow]) is a reference to a parent data item.

The CITATION category provides the bulk of the information about individual citations. _citation_id provides a link to the CITATION_AUTHOR and CITATION_EDITOR categories, where multiple authors, and, if appropriate, multiple editors are listed.

Example[link] shows how a fully populated citation list is structured across these categories.

Example A structured bibliographic reference list.

[Scheme scheme75]

The authors of a cited reference are listed using items from the CITATION_AUTHOR category. The value of _citation_author_citation_id must match a value of _citation_id in the CITATION category, and this data item forms the link between the authors and the citations. _citation_author_ordinal is used to record the order in which the authors are listed.

The editors of a cited reference are listed using items from the CITATION_EDITOR category. The value of _citation_editor_citation_id must match a value of _citation_id in the CITATION category, and this data item forms the link between the editors and the citations. _citation_editor_ordinal is used to record the order in which the editors are listed. Citation of software packages

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The single category describing software citations is as follows:


Data items in this category are as follows:

COMPUTING [Scheme scheme76]

The items in this category identify the software packages used for particular stages in a standard small-molecule crystallographic study. They may of course be used in other types of study as long as the description implied by the data name is relevant. The mmCIF dictionary provides a more general category, SOFTWARE, for the structured recording of programs used for a wider range of purposes. Citation of related database entries

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The single category describing related database entries is as follows:


Data items in this category are as follows:

DATABASE [Scheme scheme77]

The _database_code_ items store the identifiers provided by specific databases for the structure described in the current data block. In the order given above, the databases they refer to are: Chemical Abstracts, the Cambridge Structural Database, the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database, the Metals Data File, the Crystal Data database of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards), the Protein Data Bank, and the Powder Diffraction File of the International Centre for Diffraction Data.

The _database_code_depnum_ccdc_* items record deposition numbers assigned to files containing structural information archived by the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC). The deposition numbers are as assigned by the CCDC itself (*_archive), by the Fachinformationszentrum Karlsruhe (*_fiz) or by a journal (*_journal). The item _database_CSD_history records the history of changes made by the CCDC and incorporated into the Cambridge Structural Database.

The _database_journal_ items store, respectively, the coden designator for journal titles of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), as given in the Chemical Source List maintained by the Chemical Abstracts Service, and the journal code used in the Cambridge Structural Database.

These specific items are regarded as appropriate for small-molecule and inorganic structures. The mmCIF dictionary includes a DATABASE_2 category, where an extensible data scheme allows additional database entries to be stored without requiring a separate data item for each new database reference. Journal housekeeping, citation and indexing entries

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The categories used for journal housekeeping and indexing are as follows:


The data items in the JOURNAL category group are concerned with the processing of an article for publication. They are used mainly by the staff of the editorial office of an academic journal and are of limited interest to the practising crystallographer. They are not defined explicitly in the core dictionary and are included here only for the sake of completeness.

(a) JOURNAL [Scheme scheme78]

(b) JOURNAL_INDEX [Scheme scheme79]

Of the data items in the JOURNAL category, the only ones that are likely to be of interest to users other than the journal staff are the items recording the bibliographic information upon publication, namely _journal_name_full, _journal_year, _journal_volume, _journal_page_first and _journal_page_last.

Data items in the JOURNAL_INDEX category allow terms to be embedded within a CIF that will be used for generating journal indexes. Example[link] shows how this is done; the possible values of _journal_index_type are defined by the journal and for Acta Crystallographica and other IUCr journals may be one of S (subject index), I (inorganic formula index), M (metal-organic formula index) or O (organic formula index).

Example Markup of indexing terms.

[Scheme scheme80] Contents of a publication

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Categories used to describe an article for publication and to include the text of an article are as follows:

PUBL group

The items in the PUBL category group describe the text that an author adds to the experimental data in a CIF to create a full record of the structural study for publication.

Data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) PUBL [Scheme scheme81]

(b) PUBL_AUTHOR [Scheme scheme82]

(c) PUBL_BODY [Scheme scheme83]

(d) PUBL_MANUSCRIPT_INCL [Scheme scheme84]

The data items in the PUBL category represent non-looped components of the published article, varying from the article title to the complete text of the article. Some journals such as Acta Crystallographica require specific section headers in articles, for which data items (e.g. _publ_section_comment) are provided. An alternative approach is to use the general items in this list for the article title, abstract, reference list etc. and build the individual sections of text using the items in the PUBL_BODY category.

The CIF syntax restrictions that permit only printable ASCII characters (Chapter 2.2[link] ) mean that authors cannot simply cut and paste text produced by commercial word-processing programs into a CIF. This might be inconvenient for the author, but while commercial word-processing programs are often convenient to use, they use proprietary and often poorly documented formats. For an archived CIF to remain readable in the long term, the use of transparent text representations, using open and well documented markup systems such as XML or [\hbox{\TeX}], is preferred.

The authors of an article are listed separately using items in the PUBL_AUTHOR category. The entry for each author can be annotated, for example to add text that would appear as a footnote to the author's name in the published article.

The PUBL_BODY category allows the body of an article to be more highly structured than _publ_manuscript_text does. It may be used for articles that include structural data but are less formally structured than required by Acta Crystallographica Section C or Acta Crystallographica Section E.

Journals like Acta Crystallographica Section C may have a list of CIF data items that will normally be published. If an author wishes to include additional data items, they can be specified using the _PUBL_MANUSCRIPT_INCL category. Since the values of _publ_manuscript_incl_extra_item are data names, they must be placed in quotes, as in Example[link], for them to be parsed correctly.

Example Request to add material for publication to a journal's standard list.

[Scheme scheme85]

Further information on the use of the data items in the PUBL category group may be found in Section 5.7.2.[link]

3.2.6. File metadata

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The categories describing the history of a data block and its relation to other blocks are as follows:

AUDIT group

Information about the origin and purpose of a CIF is needed to be able to make full use of the content of the CIF. Information about the CIF itself (rather than the experiment or structural model it describes) is known as metadata.

Because the scope of any data value is restricted to the data block in which it resides, each data block should contain its own set of _audit_* data items (a requirement that is often overlooked in the construction of a CIF with multiple data blocks). The data items in the AUDIT_LINK category may be used to record relationships between different data blocks within the same file.

Data items in these categories are as follows:

(a) AUDIT [Scheme scheme86]

(b) AUDIT_AUTHOR [Scheme scheme87]

(c) AUDIT_CONFORM [Scheme scheme88]

(d) AUDIT_CONTACT_AUTHOR [Scheme scheme89]

(e) AUDIT_LINK [Scheme scheme90]

The AUDIT category provides a small set of data names suitable for identifying a data block and recording its creation date and subsequent modifications. Each data block in a CIF is introduced by a string of the form data_xxxx, where the block code xxxx is an arbitrary string. CIF offers no guidelines for choosing a block code, and there are many cases where the same string has been chosen to label data blocks in different files. The _audit_block_code data item is meant to encourage authors to provide a unique label for a data block. Also, as a separate data item, _audit_block_code has the advantage that it can be interrogated using standard CIF query tools; this is not true of the block code.

The core dictionary does not specify a procedure for choosing a unique identifier for the data block, but other dictionaries do. The modulated structures dictionary recommends specific naming procedures (Section[link] ) and the power dictionary supplies alternative data items designed to generate globally unique identifiers (Section[link] ).

Some applications modify the block code in the data_xxxx string. The value of _audit_block_code may not be changed arbitrarily to suit the convenience of external applications.

In Example[link], the _audit_block_code assigned is different from the data-block code; the creation date is expressed in the CIF date format convention of yyyy-mm-dd and the revision record is generated by adding material to the _audit_update_record field. Each addition has been prefixed with the date and initialled by the person who made the change. It is good practice to maintain a full record of any changes of substance to the contents of the data block.

Example Items identifying a data block and recording its revision history.

[Scheme scheme91]

Data items in the AUDIT_AUTHOR category record details of the author or authors of the data block. Where there is more than a single author, the names and addresses are looped. The use of these data items parallels that of the items in the PUBL_AUTHOR category; the difference is that the latter are used specifically to record details of authors of an article for publication. The AUDIT_AUTHOR category refers to the creators of a CIF data block regardless of its intended purpose.

Data items in the AUDIT_CONFORM category describe the version of the dictionary or dictionaries that contain the definitions of the data names in the current data block. It is very helpful to provide this information, so that applications software can locate the original definitions and validate the contents of the current data block against them (Example[link]). The dictionary identifier _audit_conform_dict_name is essential. The version is less important, as the dictionaries are revised in such a way as to try to retain compatibility between versions, but may occasionally be useful if changes of substance have crept in between versions. The location specified by _audit_conform_dict_location is useful only for local applications; in general the public register of CIF dictionaries should be used to locate dictionary files (see Section[link] ).

Example The CIF dictionaries to which the data block conforms.

[Scheme scheme92]

Data items in the AUDIT_CONTACT_AUTHOR category record details of the name and address of the author to be contacted concerning the contents of the data block. The use of these data items parallels that of the items in the PUBL_CONTACT_AUTHOR category; the difference is that the latter are used specifically to record details of the contact author of an article for publication. The AUDIT_CONTACT_AUTHOR category refers to the creator of a CIF data block regardless of its intended purpose.

The original purpose of a CIF, to record the data relevant to a single-crystal structure determination, was quickly extended to include the creation of an article reporting several crystal structures, as well as to powder CIFs recording information about multiple phases, modulated-structure CIFs describing superimposed structures and macromolecular CIFs recording results of multiple refinement cycles. A mechanism is required to differentiate the purpose of an individual data block and its relationship to other data blocks in the same file. This is provided by the AUDIT_LINK category. Example[link] shows how a CIF of an article for publication might show the relationships between the data blocks in the file. Note that the link references the value of _audit_block_code in the referenced data block, not the data-block header string itself (although in this example, and in Example[link], they have the same value).

Example List of linked data blocks in a CIF.

[Scheme scheme93]

For many applications, it is enough for a statement of the links between the data blocks in a CIF to be included once only in the file, normally in the initial data block. However, for completeness and to permit consistency checking, it is best if the other data blocks in the file have complementary declarations (Example[link]).

Example Complementary list of linked data blocks in a secondary block.

[Scheme scheme94]

Current practice as described in the core dictionary restricts this reporting of links between data blocks to the contents of a single file. In principle, if _audit_block_code were known to have globally unique values in each distinct data block, the mechanism could be extended to permit inter-file linkage.

Appendix A3.2.1

A3.2.1. Category structure of the core CIF dictionary

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Table A3.2.1.1[link] provides an overview of the structure of the core CIF dictionary by informal category group and categories.

Table A3.2.1.1| top | pdf |
Categories in the core CIF dictionary

Numbers in parentheses refer to the section of this chapter in which each category is described in detail.

ATOM group (§[link])  DIFFRN_SCALE_GROUP
 ATOM_SITE (§[link])   (§[link](d))
 ATOM_SITES (§[link])  DIFFRN_SOURCE (§[link](d))
AUDIT group (§3.2.6[link])   (§[link](e))
 AUDIT (§3.2.6[link](a))  DIFFRN_STANDARDS (§[link](f))
 AUDIT_AUTHOR (§3.2.6[link](b)) EXPTL group (§[link])
 AUDIT_CONFORM (§3.2.6[link](c))  EXPTL (§[link](a))
 AUDIT_CONTACT_AUTHOR (§3.2.6[link](d))  EXPTL_CRYSTAL (§[link](b))
 AUDIT_LINK (§3.2.6[link](e))  EXPTL_CRYSTAL_FACE (§[link](c))
CELL group (§[link]) GEOM group (§[link])
 CELL (§[link](a))  GEOM (§[link](a))
  (§[link](b))  GEOM_BOND (§[link](c))
CHEMICAL group (§[link])  GEOM_CONTACT (§[link](d))
 CHEMICAL (§[link](a))  GEOM_HBOND (§[link](e))
  (§[link](a)) JOURNAL group (§[link])
   (§[link](b))  JOURNAL_INDEX (§[link](b))
 CHEMICAL_FORMULA (§[link](b)) PUBL group (§[link])
CITATION group (§[link])  PUBL (§[link](a))
 CITATION (§[link](a))  PUBL_AUTHOR (§[link](b))
 CITATION_AUTHOR (§[link](b))  PUBL_BODY (§[link](c))
COMPUTING group (§[link])   (§[link](d))
 COMPUTING (§[link]) REFINE group (§[link])
DATABASE group (§[link])  REFINE (§[link](a))
 DATABASE (§[link])  REFINE_LS_CLASS (§[link](b))
DIFFRN group (§[link]) REFLN group (§[link])
 DIFFRN (§[link])  REFLN (§[link])
 DIFFRN_ATTENUATOR (§[link](a))  REFLNS (§[link](a))
 DIFFRN_DETECTOR (§[link])  REFLNS_CLASS (§[link](b))
   (§[link](a))  REFLNS_SHELL (§[link](d))
  (§[link](b))  SPACE_GROUP (§[link](a))
 DIFFRN_ORIENT_REFLN (§[link](c))  SPACE_GROUP_SYMOP (§[link](b))
 DIFFRN_RADIATION (§[link](b))  SYMMETRY (§[link](a))
  (§[link](c)) VALENCE group (§[link])
 DIFFRN_REFLN (§[link](a))  VALENCE_PARAM (§[link](a))
 DIFFRN_REFLNS (§[link](b))  VALENCE_REF (§[link](b))


Busing, W. R. & Levy, H. A. (1967). Angle calculations for 3- and 4-circle X-ray and neutron diffractometers. Acta Cryst. 22, 457–464.
Hall, S. R. (1981a). Space-group notation with an explicit origin. Acta Cryst. A37, 517–525.
Hall, S. R. (1981b). Space-group notation with an explicit origin. Erratum. Acta Cryst. A37, 921.
Hall, S. R. & Grosse-Kunstleve, R. W. (2001). International tables for crystallography, Vol. B, Reciprocal space, edited by U. Shmueli, 2nd ed., Appendix A1.4.2.3. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Klyne, W. & Prelog, V. (1960). Description of steric relationships across single bonds. Experientia, 16, 521–523.

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