Best Practice DFT Protocols for Basic Molecular Computational Chemistry

28 June 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Nowadays, many chemical investigations are supported by routine calculations of molecular structures, reaction energies, barrier heights, and spectroscopic properties. The lion's share of these quantum-chemical calculations applies density functional theory (DFT) evaluated in atomic-orbital basis sets. This work provides best-practice guidance on the numerous methodological and technical aspects of DFT calculations in three parts: Firstly, we set the stage and introduce a step-by-step decision tree to choose a computational protocol that models the experiment as closely as possible. Secondly, we present a recommendation matrix to guide the choice of functional and basis set depending on the task at hand. A particular focus is on achieving an optimal balance between accuracy, robustness, and efficiency through multi-level approaches. Finally, we discuss selected representative examples to illustrate the recommended protocols and the effect of methodological choices.


Density Functional Theory
Computational Chemistry
Best Practice
Quantum Chemistry


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