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The conformations adopted by the ring are denoted by a simple system in which a capital letter indicates the overall shape, C = chair, B = boat, H = half chair, S = skew boat, E = envelope. The first four of these conformations has four atoms in a plane; the envelope conformation has five.
The particular conformation is then denoted by determining the four atoms that define the plane, assigning a 'top' and 'bottom' face through the use of a left-hand rule, counting in the order of increasing ring carbon; and then indicating the identities and relative positions (top face = superscript and prefix; bottom face = subscript and suffix) of the remaining two atoms on that capital letter. In the case of the envelope conformation, only a single atom is located outside of the plane.