International
Tables for
Crystallography
Volume A
Space-group symmetry
Edited by Th. Hahn

International Tables for Crystallography (2006). Vol. A. ch. 1.4, pp. 7-11
https://doi.org/10.1107/97809553602060000503

Chapter 1.4. Graphical symbols for symmetry elements in one, two and three dimensions

Th. Hahna*

aInstitut für Kristallographie, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen, Germany
Correspondence e-mail: hahn@xtal.rwth-aachen.de

This chapter lists the graphical symbols for symmetry elements used throughout this volume. The lists are accompanied by notes and cross-references to recent IUCr nomenclature reports.

Keywords: symbols; crystallography; symmetry elements; symmetry planes; symmetry lines; symmetry axes.

1.4.1. Symmetry planes normal to the plane of projection (three dimensions) and symmetry lines in the plane of the figure (two dimensions)

| top | pdf |

Symmetry plane or symmetry lineGraphical symbolGlide vector in units of lattice translation vectors parallel and normal to the projection planePrinted symbol
[\left.\openup3pt\matrix{\hbox{Reflection plane, mirror plane}\hfill\cr \hbox{Reflection line, mirror line (two dimensions)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme8] None m
[\left.\openup3pt\matrix{\hbox{`Axial' glide plane}\hfill\cr\hbox{Glide line (two dimensions)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme9] [\!\openup2pt\matrix{{1 \over 2} \hbox{lattice vector along line in projection plane}\cr {1 \over 2} \hbox{lattice vector along line in figure plane}\hfill\cr}] [\!\matrix{a,\ b \hbox{ or } c\cr g\hfill\cr}]
`Axial' glide plane [Scheme scheme10] [{1 \over 2}] lattice vector normal to projection plane a, b or c
`Double' glide plane (in centred cells only) [Scheme scheme11] [\!\openup2pt\matrix{Two\hbox{ glide vectors:}\hfill\cr{1 \over 2}\hbox{ along line parallel to projection plane and}\cr{1 \over 2} \hbox{ normal to projection plane}\hfill}] e
`Diagonal' glide plane [Scheme scheme12] [\openup2pt\matrix{One\hbox{ glide vector with }two\hbox{ components:}\hfill\cr{1 \over 2}\hbox{ along line parallel to projection plane,}\hfill\cr{1 \over 2}\hbox{ normal to projection plane}\hfill}] n
`Diamond' glide plane (pair of planes; in centred cells only) [Scheme scheme13] [{1 \over 4}] along line parallel to projection plane, combined with [{1 \over 4}] normal to projection plane (arrow indicates direction parallel to the projection plane for which the normal component is positive) d
For further explanations of the `double' glide plane e see Note (iv)[link] below and Note (x)[link] in Section 1.3.2[link] .
Glide planes d occur only in orthorhombic F space groups, in tetragonal I space groups, and in cubic I and F space groups. They always occur in pairs with alternating glide vectors, for instance [{1 \over 4}({\bf a} + {\bf b})] and [{1 \over 4}({\bf a} - {\bf b})]. The second power of a glide reflection d is a centring vector.

1.4.2. Symmetry planes parallel to the plane of projection

| top | pdf |

Symmetry planeGraphical symbolGlide vector in units of lattice translation vectors parallel to the projection planePrinted symbol
Reflection plane, mirror plane [Scheme scheme14] None m
`Axial' glide plane [Scheme scheme15] [{1 \over 2}] lattice vector in the direction of the arrow a, b or c
`Double' glide plane (in centred cells only) [Scheme scheme16] [\matrix{Two\hbox{ glide vectors:}\hfill\cr{1 \over 2}\hbox{ in either of the directions of the two arrows}}] e
`Diagonal' glide plane [Scheme scheme17] [\matrix{One\hbox{ glide vector with }two\hbox{ components}\cr{1 \over 2}\hbox{ in the direction of the arrow}\hfill}] n
`Diamond' glide plane§ (pair of planes; in centred cells only) [Scheme scheme18] [{1 \over 2}] in the direction of the arrow; the glide vector is always half of a centring vector, i.e. one quarter of a diagonal of the conventional face-centred cell d
The symbols are given at the upper left corner of the space-group diagrams. A fraction h attached to a symbol indicates two symmetry planes with `heights' h and [h + {1 \over 2}] above the plane of projection; e.g. [{1 \over 8}] stands for [h = {1 \over 8}] and [{5 \over 8}]. No fraction means [h = 0] and [{1 \over 2}] (cf. Section 2.2.6[link] ).
For further explanations of the `double' glide plane e see Note (iv)[link] below and Note (x)[link] in Section 1.3.2[link] .
§Glide planes d occur only in orthorhombic F space groups, in tetragonal I space groups, and in cubic I and F space groups. They always occur in pairs with alternating glide vectors, for instance [{1 \over 4}({\bf a} + {\bf b})] and [{1 \over 4}({\bf a} - {\bf b})]. The second power of a glide reflection d is a centring vector.

1.4.3. Symmetry planes inclined to the plane of projection (in cubic space groups of classes [\overline{4}{3m}] and [m\overline{3}m] only)

| top | pdf |

Symmetry planeGraphical symbol for planes normal toGlide vector in units of lattice translation vectors for planes normal toPrinted symbol
[011] and [[01\bar{1}]][101] and [[10\bar{1}]][011] and [[01\bar{1}]][101] and [[10\bar{1}]]
Reflection plane, mirror plane [Scheme scheme19] [Scheme scheme25] None None m
`Axial' glide plane [Scheme scheme20] [Scheme scheme26] [{1 \over 2}] lattice vector along [100] [\left.\!\matrix{{1 \over 2}\hbox{ lattice vector along }[010]\hfill\cr\noalign{\vskip 29pt}\cr{1 \over 2}\hbox{ lattice vector along }[10\bar{1}]\cr\hbox{ or along }[101]\hfill\cr}\right\}] a or b
`Axial' glide plane [Scheme scheme21] [Scheme scheme27] [{1 \over 2}] lattice vector along [[01\bar{1}]] or along [011]
`Double' glide plane [in space groups [I\bar{4}3m] (217) and [Im\bar{3}m] (229) only] [Scheme scheme22] [Scheme scheme28] Two glide vectors: [{1 \over 2}] along [100] and [{1 \over 2}] along [[01\bar{1}]] or [{1 \over 2}] along [011] Two glide vectors: [{1 \over 2}] along [010] and [{1 \over 2}] along [[10\bar{1}]] or [{1 \over 2}] along [101] e
`Diagonal' glide plane [Scheme scheme23] [Scheme scheme29] One glide vector: [{1 \over 2}] along [[11\bar{1}]] or along [111]§ One glide vector: [{1 \over 2}] along [[11\bar{1}]] or along [111]§ n
`Diamond' glide plane†† (pair of planes; in centred cells only) [Scheme scheme24] [Scheme scheme30] [{1 \over 2}] along [[1\bar{1}1]] or along [111] [\left.\matrix{{1 \over 2}\hbox{ along }[\bar{1}11]\hbox { or}\cr \hbox{along }[111]\cr\noalign{\vskip 30pt} {1 \over 2}\hbox{ along }[\bar{1}\bar{1}1]\hbox{ or}\cr \hbox{ along }[1\bar{1}1]}\right\}] d
[{1 \over 2}] along [[\bar{1}\bar{1}1]] or along [[\bar{1}11]]
The symbols represent orthographic projections. In the cubic space-group diagrams, complete orthographic projections of the symmetry elements around high-symmetry points, such as [0,0,0]; [{1 \over 2},0,0]; [{1 \over 4},{1 \over 4},0], are given as `inserts'.
For further explanations of the `double' glide plane e see Note (iv)[link] below and Note (x)[link] in Section 1.3.2[link] .
§In the space groups [F\bar{4}3m] (216), [Fm\bar{3}m] (225) and [Fd\bar{3}m] (227), the shortest lattice translation vectors in the glide directions are [{\bf t}(1, {1 \over 2}, \bar{{1 \over 2}})] or [{\bf t}(1, {1 \over 2}, {1 \over 2})] and [{\bf t}({1 \over 2}, 1, \bar{{1 \over 2}})] or [{\bf t}({1 \over 2}, 1, {1 \over 2})], respectively.
The glide vector is half of a centring vector, i.e. one quarter of the diagonal of the conventional body-centred cell in space groups [I\bar{4}3d] (220) and [Ia\bar{3}d] (230).
††Glide planes d occur only in orthorhombic F space groups, in tetragonal I space groups, and in cubic I and F space groups. They always occur in pairs with alternating glide vectors, for instance [{1 \over 4}({\bf a} + {\bf b})] and [{1 \over 4}({\bf a} - {\bf b})]. The second power of a glide reflection d is a centring vector.

1.4.4. Notes on graphical symbols of symmetry planes

| top | pdf |

  • (i) The graphical symbols and their explanations (columns 2 and 3) are independent of the projection direction and the labelling of the basis vectors. They are, therefore, applicable to any projection diagram of a space group. The printed symbols of glide planes (column 4), however, may change with a change of the basis vectors, as shown by the following example.

    In the rhombohedral space groups [R3c] (161) and [R\bar{3}c] (167), the dotted line refers to a c glide when described with `hexagonal axes' and projected along [001]; for a description with `rhombohedral axes' and projection along [111], the same dotted glide plane would be called n. The dash-dotted n glide in the hexagonal description becomes an a, b or c glide in the rhombohedral description; cf. the first footnote[link] in Section 1.3.1.

  • (ii) The graphical symbols for glide planes in column 2 are not only used for the glide planes defined in Chapter 1.3[link] , but also for the further glide planes g which are mentioned in Section 1.3.2[link] (Note x[link] ) and listed in Table 4.3.2.1[link] ; they are explained in Sections 2.2.9[link] and 11.1.2[link] .

  • (iii) In monoclinic space groups, the `parallel' glide vector of a glide plane may be along a lattice translation vector which is inclined to the projection plane.

  • (iv) In 1992, the International Union of Crystallography introduced the `double' glide plane e and the graphical symbol ..--..-- for e glide planes oriented `normal' and `inclined' to the plane of projection (de Wolff et al., 1992[link]); for details of e glide planes see Chapter 1.3[link] . Note that the graphical symbol [\downarrow\hskip -6pt\raise5pt\hbox{$\rightarrow$}] for e glide planes oriented `parallel' to the projection plane has already been used in IT (1935)[link] and IT (1952)[link].

1.4.5. Symmetry axes normal to the plane of projection and symmetry points in the plane of the figure

| top | pdf |

Symmetry axis or symmetry pointGraphical symbolScrew vector of a right-handed screw rotation in units of the shortest lattice translation vector parallel to the axisPrinted symbol (partial elements in parentheses)
Identity None None 1
[\!\left.\matrix{\hbox{Twofold rotation axis}\hfill\cr \hbox{Twofold rotation point (two dimensions)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme31] None 2
Twofold screw axis: `2 sub 1' [Scheme scheme32] [{1 \over 2}] [2_{1}]
[\!\left.\matrix{\hbox{Threefold rotation axis}\hfill\cr \hbox{Threefold rotation point (two dimensions)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme33] None 3
Threefold screw axis: `3 sub 1' [Scheme scheme34] [{1 \over 3}] [3_{1}]
Threefold screw axis: `3 sub 2' [Scheme scheme35] [{2 \over 3}] [3_{2}]
[\!\left.\openup3pt\matrix{\hbox{Fourfold rotation axis}\hfill\cr \hbox{Fourfold rotation point (two dimensions)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme36] None 4 (2)
Fourfold screw axis: `4 sub 1' [Scheme scheme37] [{1 \over 4}] [4_{1} ] [(2_{1})]
Fourfold screw axis: `4 sub 2' [Scheme scheme38] [{1 \over 2}] [4_{2}] [(2)]
Fourfold screw axis: `4 sub 3' [Scheme scheme39] [{3 \over 4}] [4_{3} ] [(2_{1})]
[\!\left.\openup3pt\matrix{\hbox{Sixfold rotation axis}\hfill\cr \hbox{Sixfold rotation point (two dimensions)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme40] None 6 (3,2)
Sixfold screw axis: `6 sub 1' [Scheme scheme41] [{1 \over 6}] [6_{1}] [ (3_{1},2_{1})]
Sixfold screw axis: `6 sub 2' [Scheme scheme42] [{1 \over 3}] [6_{2}] [ (3_{2},2)]
Sixfold screw axis: `6 sub 3' [Scheme scheme43] [{1 \over 2}] [6_{3} ] [(3,2_{1})]
Sixfold screw axis: `6 sub 4' [Scheme scheme44] [{2 \over 3}] [6_{4} ] [(3_{1},2)]
Sixfold screw axis: `6 sub 5' [Scheme scheme45] [{5 \over 6}] [6_{5} ] [(3_{2},2_{1})]
[\!\left.\openup3pt\matrix{\hbox{Centre of symmetry, inversion centre: `1 bar'}\hfill\cr\hbox{Reflection point, mirror point (one dimension)}\cr}\right\}] [Scheme scheme46] None [\bar{1}]
Inversion axis: `3 bar' [Scheme scheme47] None [\bar{3} ] [(3,\bar{1})]
Inversion axis: `4 bar' [Scheme scheme48] None [\bar{4} ] [(2)]
Inversion axis: `6 bar' [Scheme scheme49] None [\bar{6} \equiv 3/m]
Twofold rotation axis with centre of symmetry [Scheme scheme50] None [2/m ] [(\bar{1})]
Twofold screw axis with centre of symmetry [Scheme scheme51] [{1 \over 2}] [2_{1}/m ] [(\bar{1})]
Fourfold rotation axis with centre of symmetry [Scheme scheme52] None [4/m ] [(\bar{4},2,\bar{1})]
`4 sub 2' screw axis with centre of symmetry [Scheme scheme53] [{1 \over 2}] [4_{2}/m ] [(\bar{4},2,\bar{1})]
Sixfold rotation axis with centre of symmetry [Scheme scheme54] None [6/m] [ (\bar{6},\bar{3},3,2,\bar{1})]
`6 sub 3' screw axis with centre of symmetry [Scheme scheme55] [{1 \over 2}] [6_{3}/m ] [(\bar{6},\bar{3},3,2_{1},\bar{1})]

Notes on the `heights' h of symmetry points [\bar{1}], [\bar{3}], [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}]:

  • (1) Centres of symmetry [\bar{1}] and [\bar{3}], as well as inversion points [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}] on [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}] axes parallel to [001], occur in pairs at `heights' h and [h + {1 \over 2}]. In the space-group diagrams, only one fraction h is given, e.g. [{1 \over 4}] stands for [h = {1 \over 4}] and [{3 \over 4}]. No fraction means [h = 0] and [{1 \over 2}]. In cubic space groups, however, because of their complexity, both fractions are given for vertical [\bar{4}] axes, including [h = 0] and [{1 \over 2}].

  • (2) Symmetries [4/m] and [6/m] contain vertical [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}] axes; their [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}] inversion points coincide with the centres of symmetry. This is not indicated in the space-group diagrams.

  • (3) Symmetries [4_{2}/m] and [6_{3}/m] also contain vertical [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}] axes, but their [\bar{4}] and [\bar{6}] inversion points alternate with the centres of symmetry; i.e. [\bar{1}] points at h and [h + {1 \over 2}] interleave with [\bar{4}] or [\bar{6}] points at [h + {1 \over 4}] and [h + {3 \over 4}]. In the tetragonal and hexagonal space-group diagrams, only one fraction for [\bar{1}] and one for [\bar{4}] or [\bar{6}] is given. In the cubic diagrams, all four fractions are listed for [4_{2}/m]; e.g. [Pm\bar{3}n] (No. 223): [\bar{1}]: [0, {1 \over 2}]; [\bar{4}]: [{1 \over 4}, {3 \over 4}].


1.4.6. Symmetry axes parallel to the plane of projection

| top | pdf |

Symmetry axisGraphical symbolScrew vector of a right-handed screw rotation in units of the shortest lattice translation vector parallel to the axisPrinted symbol (partial elements in parentheses)
Twofold rotation axis [Scheme scheme56] None 2
Twofold screw axis: `2 sub 1' [Scheme scheme57] [{1 \over 2}] [2_{1}]
Fourfold rotation axis [Scheme scheme58] [Scheme scheme64] None 4 (2)
Fourfold screw axis: `4 sub 1' [Scheme scheme59] [{1 \over 4}] [4_{1} ] [(2_{1})]
Fourfold screw axis: `4 sub 2' [Scheme scheme60] [{1 \over 2}] [4_{2} ] [(2)]
Fourfold screw axis: `4 sub 3' [Scheme scheme61] [{3 \over 4}] [4_{3} ] [(2_{1})]
Inversion axis: `4 bar' [Scheme scheme62] None [\bar{4} ] [(2)]
Inversion point on `4 bar'-axis [Scheme scheme63] [\bar{4}] point
The symbols for horizontal symmetry axes are given outside the unit cell of the space-group diagrams. Twofold axes always occur in pairs, at `heights' h and [h + {1 \over 2}] above the plane of projection; here, a fraction h attached to such a symbol indicates two axes with heights h and [h + {1 \over 2}]. No fraction stands for [h = 0] and [{1 \over 2}]. The rule of pairwise occurrence, however, is not valid for the horizontal fourfold axes in cubic space groups; here, all heights are given, including [h = 0] and [{1 \over 2}]. This applies also to the horizontal [\bar{4}] axes and the [\bar{4}] inversion points located on these axes.

1.4.7. Symmetry axes inclined to the plane of projection (in cubic space groups only)

| top | pdf |

Symmetry axisGraphical symbolScrew vector of a right-handed screw rotation in units of the shortest lattice translation vector parallel to the axisPrinted symbol (partial elements in parentheses)
Twofold rotation axis [Scheme scheme65] [Scheme scheme71] None 2
Twofold screw axis: `2 sub 1' [Scheme scheme66] [{1 \over 2}] [2_{1}]
Threefold rotation axis [Scheme scheme67] [Scheme scheme72] None 3
Threefold screw axis: `3 sub 1' [Scheme scheme68] [{1 \over 3}] [3_{1}]
Threefold screw axis: `3 sub 2' [Scheme scheme69] [{2 \over 3}] [3_{2}]
Inversion axis: `3 bar' [Scheme scheme70] None [\bar{3} ] [(3,\bar{1})]
The dots mark the intersection points of axes with the plane at [h = 0]. In some cases, the intersection points are obscured by symbols of symmetry elements with height [h \geq 0]; examples: [Fd\bar{3}] (203), origin choice 2; [Pn\bar{3}n] (222), origin choice 2; [Pm\bar{3}n] (223); [Im\bar{3}m] (229); [Ia\bar{3}d] (230).

References

First citationInternationale Tabellen zur Bestimmung von Kristallstrukturen (1935). I. Band, edited by C. Hermann. Berlin: Borntraeger. [Reprint with corrections: Ann Arbor: Edwards (1944). Abbreviated as IT (1935).]Google Scholar
First citationInternational Tables for X-ray Crystallography (1952). Vol. I, edited by N. F. M. Henry & K. Lonsdale. Birmingham: Kynoch Press. [Abbreviated as IT (1952).]Google Scholar
First citationWolff, P. M. de, Billiet, Y., Donnay, J. D. H., Fischer, W., Galiulin, R. B., Glazer, A. M., Hahn, Th., Senechal, M., Shoemaker, D. P., Wondratschek, H., Wilson, A. J. C. & Abrahams, S. C. (1992). Symbols for symmetry elements and symmetry operations. Final Report of the International Union of Crystallography Ad-hoc Committee on the Nomenclature of Symmetry. Acta Cryst. A48, 727–732.Google Scholar








































to end of page
to top of page