Summary of spelling of Van der Waals whatever

 Thanks to all who responded so quickly to my question about the
 correct spelling of van der Waals parameters.  From the amount of
 traffic it generated on the CCL (and in my own personal e-mail!) it
 seems that others were confused or concerned as well.  However, I
 think I can summarize the situation this way.  The ACS Style Guide and
 two journal editors (at least the two people who said they were
 journal editors) recommend the way I wrote it in the first sentence:
 lower case "v" and "d" and no apostrophe.  However, many
 people from
 the Netherlands have stated that van should be capitalized when used
 without a first name or initial.
 Personally, I will use a upper case "v" and no apostrophe... unless an
 editor wants something different. ;-)
 I have edited the responses and included some of them below.  If you
 want the complete listing, see my WWW site at  There will
 be a link
 to the appropriate file.
 And remember: grammer flames are so pedantic. :-)
 Now on to more important matters: is it Stokes or Stokes' law? ;-)
 The original question was:
 We have a minor controversy here.  What is the correct spelling
 for van der Waals parameters or forces?
 Is it:
 	a. van der Waal's parameters (lower case v and apostrophy)
 	b. Van der Waal's parameters (upper case v and apostrophy)
 	c. van der Waals parameters (lower case v and no apostrophy)
 	d. Van der Waals parameters (upper case v and no apostrophy)
 	e. some other permutation?
 First, I thought this response from Marvin Waldman was interesting:
 I found it somewhat amusing that my copy of Physical Chemistry by Moore,
 Third Edition, (Copyright 1962) - that's not the year I used it (not
 even close), so don't try to guess my age from that date - has the following
 usages of van der Waals in the same book(!) :
 Page 18:
 	Caption for Table 1.2:
 		Critical Point Data and van der Waals Constants
 Page 19, second line from bottom:
 	The van der Waals equation provides ...
 Page 20, third line from top:
 	... the van der Waals' equation.
 Emphasis added by me.
 Page 21:
 	Title for Section 16:
 Page 21, next line(!):
 	Van der Waals' equation provides ...
    Usage or non-usage of the apostrophe (or even being consistent
 about it) does not constitute grounds for rejection of your article,
 book, user manual, or any other document from which you hope to achieve
 fame and fortune.  The same apparently applies to using a small
 or capital "v".
 		Addtional Historical Background
 By the way, it appears that there are several van der Waals'
 involved in the theory of intermolecular forces.
 The most famous one (associated with the van der Waals equation of
 state) is J.D. van der Waals Sr. as referenced on page 131 of Molecular Theory
 of Gases and Liquids by Hirschfelder, Curtiss, and Bird (Copyright
 1954 - with notes and corrections added in March, 1964) as follows:
 "The experimentally observed deviations from the ideal gas law
 were interpreted qualitatively by van der Waals (Ref 1) ..."
 Ref 1: J.D. van der Waals Sr., Doctoral Dissertation (Leiden 1873).
 It is the same van der Waals to whom credit is generally given
 for intermolecular attractive forces as described on page 206
 of Theoretical Inorganic Chemistry by Day and Selbin (Second Edition,
 Copyright 1969) as follows:
 "The existence of such weak attractive forces was first recognized
 by van der Waals as early as 1813 (this is clearly a typo!).
 At that time, he introduced the a/V**2 term in his equation of state
 to allow for such interactions.  It is for this reason that these
 forces are referred to as van der Waals forces."
 In Moore's Physical Chemistry text, van der Waals (in the context
 of the person discovering the Equation of State) is referenced in
 the index on page vii of the Index of Names as
 van der Waals, J.C.  This again appears to be a typo since the
 same van der Waals is listed on page 221 as having discovered the
 Equation of State for gases in 1873.
 However, there are two more van der Waals(!) mentioned in Theory
 of Intermolecular Forces by Margenau and Kestner (Second Edition,
 Copyright 1971).  On page 8, they describe:
   "J.H. van der Waals (1908, Part I, pp. 207 et seq) returns to
 Laplace's problem of capillarity, but with special concern for the
 nature and mathematical form of the forces.  Ignoring previous
 specific formulations he invokes what is now called the Yukawa
 potential, V = -A/r x exp(-r/a), A and a being empirical constants."
 And, on page 10, they write:
   "The idea of electronic dipoles was elaborated in Reinganum's
 second paper which appeared after van der Waals (J.D. van der
 Waals Jr. (1909)) had treated the interaction of rotating dipoles
 statistically, but in a manner not wholly convincing to Reinganum."
 Apparently, this latter van der Waals is the son of van der Waals Sr.
 The references for the latter two van der Waals' are given
 in the Bibiliography as:
 van der Waals, J. D. Jr. (1909) Amst.Acad.Proc., pp. 132, 315.
 van der Waals, J. H. (1908) Lehrbuch der Thermodynamik, Mass and Van
    Suchtelen, Leipzig, Part 1.
 Now for other selected responses are listed below:
 From:  drablos - at -
 According to J.S. Dodd (Ed.), "The ACS Style Guide", ACS, Washington
 DC, 1986, p.28 the *recommended* spelling is "van der Waals".
 From dave - at -
 The ACS style guide lists: van der Waals
 From andrus - at -
      In my mind version c. i.e. " van der Waals " is a proper
 choice for spelling: " van " is not a part of the name but a
 title of the aristocrat, like "von", "don", so the lower
 case is
      This version is also used in my paper in "Chemical Physics"
 (printing office of this journal is located in Netherlands)
 From M.J.C.Crabbe - at -
 Oxford University Press opted for van der Waals
 in the manual for DeskTop Molecular Modeller program DTMM v. 3.0
 From GWA - at - CU.NIH.GOV (Bill Milne, Editor, JCICS)
 The man's name was "van der Waals".  Things associated with the
 name (radii, etc) should be termed "van der Waals' radii".  But
 usage in ACS journals, at least, is "van der Waals radii"
 From stoutepf - at -
 Although his family name is van der Waals (so choices a and b are
 absolutely wrong), when used standalone (e.g. without a first name) the
 in "van" gets capitalized. So option d would be the most correct
 From: mirko - at - (Mirko Kranenburg)
 Since the spelling of Van der Waals's name is becoming a real issue,
 I'll explain the origin of the capital or non-capital V.
 Since he was Dutch (yes, we do produce great chemists), his name is
 spelled" Johannes Diederik van der Waals", so no capital for the v.
 When you just quote the last name, it is "Van der Waals", capital V.
 So when you use his last name for the params, the official Dutch way
 of spelling would be with a capital V.
 From: <PA13808 - at - UTKVM1.UTK.EDU>
    I think it is time to abandon the search for historical truth in favor
   of modern usage. At least for the USA and probably the Netherlands the situat
 ion is spelled out for us in the recent Chemical Reviews (Vol94, issue 7)
  Which is devoted entirely to papers about van der Waals molecules. Every paper
  (14 of them) employs the above style. There is also a paper by Prof
   van Duijnevedt, and one by Ad van der Avoird.
        It is aso clear that unless one is referring to parameter values
    proposed by a vdW the correct usage is
      van der waals parameters. ( Think,we never write Hartree's energy!!)
 Thanks again and if you want to see the complete set of
 responses see my homepage at
   There will a link to the complete listing.
 						Jeff Nauss
 *  UU    UU             Jeffrey L. Nauss, PhD                              *
 *  UU    UU             Director, Molecular Modeling Services              *
 *  UU    UU             Department of Chemistry                            *
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