This site uses the standard notation with the exception of the double-layer suffix "w" adopted from the JSCC notation.
The six layers and three slices of the cube are indicated by the following capital letters:
|U (Up)||D (Down)||R (Right)||L (Left)||F (Front)||B (Back)|
|M (Middle)||E (Equator)||S (Side)|
A layer and its adjacent slice together are denoted by the letter for the layer followed by "w":
|Uw (Up double)||Dw (Down double)||Rw (Right double)||Lw (Left double)||Fw (Front double)||Bw (Back double)|
The colors are shown only for clarity. For example, "R" is the layer on the right (relative to the cube's orientation) regardless of the current state of the cube or the position of the centers.
The notation for each move is constructed as follows:
|(Double) layer or slice name
One of the fifteen listed above
|+||Number of turns
(none) = Quarter turn (90 degrees)
2 = Half turn (180 degrees)
|+||Direction of turn|
(none) = Clockwise
' = Counter-clockwise
For (double) layer turns, clockwise and counter-clockwise refer to direction as seen from that layer. By convention, the clockwise direction for M, E, and S match those of L, D, and F, respectively.
Up quarter cw
Up quarter ccw
Up half ccw
Up double half ccw
Back quarter cw
Back quarter ccw
Back half ccw
Back double half ccw
Middle quarter cw
Equator quarter cw
Side quarter cw
Middle half ccw
In addition, there are three whole cube turns, which can also be modified by 2 and '.
|x (unmodified: like R)||y (unmodified: like U)||z (unmodified: like F)|
To make sure you understand the notation, try writing down the notation for the sequence of moves shown in the applet. The answer can be read on the right by highlighting the table.
I will often use "-" to separate an algorithm into blocks. Each block is often a finger trick or a longer sequence that can be done without readjusting your hands. In many other sites, such blocks are denoted by ().
When an algorithm has repeating sections, for simplicity I often use ()*n to indicate that the sequence inside the parentheses should be repeated n times. If the algorithm is a commutator, I may use [P,Q] to mean P, Q, P inverse, Q inverse.
Notations used on Other Sites
The use of "w" for double layer is prevalent among Asian cubers. American and Europeans tend to use a lowercase letter of the layer name to indicate a double layer turn (for example, "u" means "Uw"). Aside from this differenc, most speedcubing sites use the same notation as this site. There are, however, some cubers who use a slightly different variations. I have listed some notations you might encounter on other sites.
s and a are usually found on sites before 2003. They have largely fallen out of use among today's speedcubers.
In many Asian sites, (r), for example, is used to denote a whole cube turn in the direction of R (i.e. x in the notation I use).