We note substantial inconsistency among authors discussing rotational motions observed with inertial seismic sensors (and much more so in the broader topic of rotational phenomena). Working from physics and other precedents, we propose standard terminology and a preferred reference frame for inertial sensors (Fig. 1) that may be consistently used in discussions of both finite and infinitesimal observed rotational and translational motions in seismology and earthquake engineering. The scope of this article is limited to observations because there are significant differences in the analysis of finite and infinitesimal rotations, though such discussions should remain compatible with those presented here where possible. We recommend the general use of the notation conventions presented in this tutorial, and we recommend that any deviations or alternatives be explicitly defined.

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