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Chemical Structure Searching Guide

Learn to find chemicals from their structure rather than by name!

Chemical Structure Searching

If you are looking for research about a specific chemical, or reaction, or even about a group of chemicals with similar structures, structure searching may help you find the information you need. UH Libraries subscribes to two databases with chemical structure searching capability: SciFinder, and Reaxys. For more information, including links to some training resources, see the pages linked in the gray bars.

You can also do some structure searching using ChemSpider, a freely available chemical structure database organized by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Choosing a Structure Searching Tool

SciFinder and Reaxys are both very powerful search tools. While in many ways they are similar, it is important to remember that they have some different strengths. Here are a few of the strengths of each tool, which may help you choose which tool to start with.


  • Most comprehensive chemistry database
  • More substances included in the database
  • Includes both single-step and multi-step reactions
  • Content beyond pure chemistry (engineering, geology, life sciences, and more)


  • More synthetic organic substances
  • Includes reaction searching for inorganic compounds
  • Can export structures to a chemical drawing tool

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