I wanted to extract a paragraph from an earlier post and open it up for further discussion. When I was creating the chemistry dictionary file, one of the last things I did was apply the dictionary file to ASAPs of popular ACS journals. Here’s what I wrote:
One of the biggest things I noticed during this vetting was the use of plurals in scientific writing. Cyclopentenone is an actual compound and is in the dictionary. If your research requires you to make a family of cyclopentenones, then the plural was probably not in the dictionary (it is now, though). Although, that raises an interesting question: can you pluralize compounds like that? Or is it more correct to say that a library of cyclopentenone derivatives was made? Same thing with families of natural products. Are they members of the brevetoxins? Or are they more correctly members of the brevetoxin family of natural products? I’m not sure I know the answer to that one. One thing I do know is that I did not include plurals of elements. Your 13C NMR doesn’t tell you that you have 2 carbonyl carbons. It tells you that you have 2 carbonyl carbon atoms.
The ACS style guide (at least the 2nd edition) doesn’t comment explicitly on the use of plurals with chemical compounds. What say you?